China GLP-1s: Novo Nordisk invests $556m, Aurisco expands

Novo Nordisk’s expansion in Tianjin and Aurisco’s multi-metric ton plant in Yangzhou show China is not immune to the demand for diabetes and weight loss GLP-1s.

Dan Stanton, Managing editor

April 8, 2024

2 Min Read

Novo Nordisk, the Danish biopharma centered on diabetes therapies, announced plans to invest $556 million to expand its Tianjin city production facility, located 110km southeast of Beijing

Novo has been actively involved in China for 30 years having completed the existing Tianjin facility 30 years ago. The site has since become part of the company’s global supply chain. The new facility will use isolator technology to produce products with better sterility and  is likely to support blockbuster weight loss drug, Wegovy (semaglutide), ChinaBio Today reported last month.

The glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist was initially approved to treat type 2 diabetes in 2017, but its sales have increased greatly since being approved as a weight loss therapy.

The company said many of the company’s products will be manufactured in the facility, once it is completed in 2027, though it did not mention Wegovy by name despite the product’s expected impact on Novo’s revenues. 

The expansion in China follows a slew of investments in GLP-1 drug substance capacity – a $6 billion expansion in its native Denmark was quickly followed up by a $2+ billion spend in Chartres, France – and the planned acquisition of three Catalent drug product plants as part of a $16.5 billion deal.

Meanwhile, about 1,000km south from Beijing, Aurisco Pharmaceutical has completed the expansion of its cGMP peptide manufacturing site in Yangzhou.

The plant is set to offer multi-metric ton capacity to produce GLP-1 peptides, ChinaBio Today again reports, including its own generic products. The facility, which expects to start operations in mid-2024, will initially pursue commercial scale validation of recombinant Semaglutide. The site also offers contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) services for synthetic and recombinant peptides and oligonucleotides.

“The completion of this investment in GLP-1 peptide manufacturing capacity marks a significant milestone for Aurisco Pharmaceutical,” said Peng Zhien, president and founder of Aurisco Pharmaceutical.

“This new facility is a good example of our commitment to enhancing global access to high-quality pharmaceuticals, particularly in the high demand vital area of diabetes management. We are proud to leverage our expertise and resources to bring innovative solutions to patients in need.”

With the expansion of this facility, Aurisco expects it will be able to help meet the growing demand for GLP-1 peptides worldwide. The expanded use of generic oral forms of Semaglutide to treat more prevalent diseases will require cost efficient and sustainable processes, with low costs that can only be met by recombinant manufacturing in China, the company said.

About the Author(s)

Dan Stanton

Managing editor

Journalist covering the international biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing industries.

Founder and editor of Bioprocess Insider, a daily news offshoot of publication Bioprocess International, with expertise in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, in particular, the following niches: CROs, CDMOs, M&A, IPOs, biotech, bioprocessing methods and equipment, drug delivery, regulatory affairs and business development.

From London, UK originally but currently based in Montpellier, France through a round-a-bout adventure that has seen me live and work in Leeds (UK), London, New Zealand, and China.

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