Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk expand operations amid GLP-1 drug boom

Biopharma bigwigs Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk are upping capacity to meet the rising demands of GLP-1 drugs.

Shreeyashi Ojha, Reporter

June 20, 2024

2 Min Read

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drugs for diabetes and weight loss are emerging as the latest blockbuster pharmaceuticals. Like messenger RNA (mRNA) gaining recognition during the pandemic, the companies that initially ventured into the GLP-1 market are now benefiting substantially. However, an increase in demand has caused drug shortages, prompting companies to expand their capacity. 

Eli Lilly has doubled investment to $2 billion at its Concord, North Carolina facility since it broke ground in 2022. The facility, previously owned by cigarette manufacturing firm Phillip Morris, will produce diabetes and obesity medicine. Creating 600 jobs, the plant is expected to open in 2025.  

In November 2023, the Danish pharma giant received FDA authorization for Zepbound under the trade name Mounjaro (both tirzepatide), and the drug produced $176 million in revenue over six weeks in 2023

Notably, Catalent’s acquisition by Novo Holdings (Novo Nordisk’s investment arm) raised sales concerns for Lilly. The contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Catalent is Lilly’s manufacturing partner, producing its GLP-1 drugs.  

This has led to the Danish drugmaker investing heavily to support its diabetes and obesity products. In 2020, the firm invested $470 million to build an injectable drug manufacturing facility in Durham County, North Carolina. This was followed by an investment of $2.1 billion in 2022 at its native Indiana, set to include two active ingredient plants.  

Additionally, in November 2023, Lilly confirmed an investment of $2.5 billion to construct a drug production plant in Rhineland-Palatinate, close to the French border in Germany to support its diabetes and obesity products. Followed by the firm reportedly inking deals with CDMOs National Resilience and BSP Pharmaceuticals for the fill/finish of GLP-1 Zepbound and Mounjaro, in March 2024 and the recent acquisition of Nexus plant. 

Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk confirmed an investment of $4.1 billion to build a second fill and finishing manufacturing facility in Clayton, North Carolina. The expansion aims to produce injectables for obese patients and other serious chronic diseases. The 1.4 million square feet plant is expected to create 1,000 jobs and will double the firm’s combined square footage in North Carolina. The plant is expected to be operational between 2027 and 2029. 

For 2023, Ozempic (semaglutide) contributed DK 95 billion ($13.7 billion) to Novo Nordisk’s topline, while Wegovy brought in a further DK 31 billion ($4.5 billion). 

About the Author(s)

Shreeyashi Ojha

Reporter, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering the manufacturing and processing sectors for biopharmaceuticals globally.  

Originally from India, I am a Londoner at heart. I have recently graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London.  

Feel free to reach out to me at: [email protected].

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