The Acne Market

Acne is a common human disease of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles, characterized by areas of the skin with open comedones (blackheads), closed comedones (whiteheads), papules (pinheads), pustules (pimples), inflamed nodules, superficial pus filled cysts, and canalizing, deep, inflamed, sometimes purulent sacs. Acne can occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms. Approximately 17 million people in the US suffer from acne, making it the most common skin disease. Almost 85% of people between ages 12 and 24 develop acne. Approximately 30% of teenagers have acne severe enough to require medical treatment.

Acne is caused by an increased sensitivity to the hormone testosterone, which is present in both males and females. Testosterone causes the sebaceous glands to secrete an excess of sebum, which builds up behind blockage of hair follicle openings caused by rapid division of skin cells, leading to the formation of blackheads and whiteheads. Changes in the pH of skin can encourage bacteria growth, which can become trapped in the hair follicles, producing a deeper infection in the form of pustules and nodules. Other factors that may cause acne include genetic factors, stress, hormonal changes and the use of some medications. While acne may not be life threatening, the psychological implications of acne, such as loss of confidence, ridicule from peers, depression, social difficulty and decreased potential to gain employment dramatically affect the quality of life in the sufferers.

The global market for acne was estimated at $4.2 billion in 2010. Currently, topical anti-acne treatments, consisting primarily of retinoids, account for approximately 50% of the global market for acne products. However, a major limitation to topical retinoid use is its poor tolerability. The acne market lacks efficacious topical retinoid treatments with tolerable side effects. The side effects of all topical retinoid treatments include dry skin, burning, scaling and redness of skin and often cause users to stop using the treatment. As a result, we believe that the introduction of a novel topical retinoid for acne treatment could establish a new safe and effective product to further address and expand the acne market.