GERMANY – Eli Lilly, a leading pharmaceutical company, is intensifying its manufacturing efforts in response to the soaring demand for its diabetes and obesity drugs, Mounjaro and Zepbound.

After investing billions in its operations over the past year, the pharmaceutical giant is reportedly set to construct a large plant in Alzey, Germany, signaling a commitment to meet the growing market needs.

The investment in the German facility is anticipated to reach up to 2 billion euros (US$2.2 billion), with projections suggesting employment for at least 1,000 people, according to sources cited by Reuters.

The company is expected to unveil more details about its investment plans on Friday, keeping specific information under wraps until then.

While the exact nature of the products manufactured at the German site remains undisclosed, Eli Lilly’s CEO, David Ricks, recently emphasized the company’s aggressive planning for manufacturing expansions.

A significant focus has been on doubling production capacity for the diabetes drug Mounjaro by the end of 2023.

The pharmaceutical giant has already committed US$1.7 billion to its Research Triangle Park facility in North Carolina, aiming to meet the increasing demand for Mounjaro.

Additional investments include over US$500 million in an active pharmaceutical ingredient plant in Ireland and a record-breaking US$1.6 billion commitment to new manufacturing sites in Indiana’s LEAP Innovation Park.

Simultaneously, Eli Lilly faces competition from Novo Nordisk in the weight loss arena. Novo’s semaglutide drugs for weight loss, particularly Ozempic, have witnessed a surge in demand in Europe.

The popularity is such that Germany is considering restricting the export of Ozempic due to shortages and increasing difficulties for type 2 diabetes patients to access treatment.

This follows Belgium’s recent decision to limit the use of Novo’s GLP-1 drugs to specific patient groups.

Ozempic, initially approved by FDA in 2017 for diabetes management, has gained attention for its weight loss side effects, leading doctors to prescribe it off-label for weight loss.

The weight loss drugs have faced shortages across Europe, prompting the UK to issue warnings of limited availability and urging doctors to prescribe Ozempic only to type 2 diabetes patients.

The drug, part of the GLP-1 class, has been prescribed off-label for weight loss, contributing to the surge in demand.

Novo Nordisk’s efforts to meet this growing demand include a recent investment of US$6 billion to expand its active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing site in Denmark.

The competitive landscape between Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk in the weight loss market remains intense.

Despite massive investments to expand manufacturing capacity, both companies are grappling with challenges in meeting the escalating demand for their respective obesity treatments, Zepbound and Ozempic.

As the pharmaceutical giants navigate these dynamics, the industry witnesses a significant push toward addressing the global rise in diabetes and obesity-related health concerns.

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