Contract Drug Manufacturers Invest Billions to Meet Growing Demand for Weight-Loss Drugs

Contract drug manufacturers are making significant investments to expand their manufacturing capabilities and meet the surging demand for weight-loss drugs. These companies are focusing on filling the injection pens used to administer treatments like Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro. The market for weight-loss drugs, particularly GLP-1 agonists, is projected to be worth up to $100 billion within a decade.

Pharmaceutical services companies are vying for a larger share of the fill-finish process, which involves filling the syringes used in the pens. WuXi Biologics, for instance, is exploring the use of pre-filled syringe capacity at its German factory and is considering acquiring more factories in Europe. Catalent is also building significant pre-filled syringe capacity in Italy and the United States, while Thermo Fisher is converting facilities to handle pens for obesity and diabetes medicines.

The race among contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) to secure contracts in this sector began last year, with several projects worth at least $3 billion announced by companies such as Lonza, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, and Vetter. As Novo Nordisk and Lilly prepare to launch their weight-loss drugs, the demand for fill-finish services is expected to increase further.

The fill-finish market is predicted to more than double between 2019 and 2027, reaching $12.5 billion. The development of biologic drugs and the increasing use of injectables in elderly care settings are contributing to this growth. However, the expansion projects are expected to take time, with supply constraints likely to persist until next year or even later.

Catalent and Thermo Fisher are currently leading the market due to their existing capabilities, despite quality issues that have caused Wegovy shortages in the past. The scramble for capacity is not expected to create a surplus, as CDMOs typically operate based on demand rather than speculative expansion.

The investments made by contract drug manufacturers highlight the growing importance of the weight-loss drug market and the potential for significant growth in the coming years. As the demand for GLP-1 agonists continues to rise, these companies are positioning themselves to meet the needs of pharmaceutical giants and capitalize on the expanding market.

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