Chinese pharma to ride on the global GLP-1 drugs bonanza

The Chinese market for GLP-1 drugs to treat diabetes and obesity could grow to US$11.4 billion by 2033.

  • Chinese companies could command 20% of China market share of GLP-1 drugs by 2033.
  • Sales to be led by competitive pricing, an immense sales network, and more awareness around diabetes and obesity.
  • Could also translate into opportunities for Chinese contract research, development and manufacturing organizations.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, or GLP-1 drugs, a sub-category of medication to treat diabetes and obesity, saw sales skyrocket in 2023. Bloomberg’s consensus forecasts the global market of this drug category to grow 21% annually, ultimately surpassing US$100 billion by 2030.

China’s GLP-1 market could grow faster, at 23% annually from 2023 to CNY81 billion (US$11.4 billion) in 2033, according to Nomura estimates. Chinese players could command 20% of the China market for these drugs by then, led by competitive pricing, an immense sales network, and potentially better efficacy to address the demands of China’s vast local population that are increasingly more health aware.

Originally designed to treat type 2 diabetes, GLP-1 drugs are now seen as a supplementary treatment for obesity and weight loss, especially after many celebrities and high-profile influencers endorsed their efficacy. By geography, the US is the largest market for these drugs. China, on the other hand, is still a nascent market but with huge potential.

China accounted for 26% of the global diabetic population, or the largest proportion by country, and the second-largest diabetes-related healthcare expenditures in 2021, according to the International Diabetes Federation. According to Frost & Sullivan, China’s total diabetes drug market could reach CNY168 billion in 2030 from CNY86 billion in 2022. The higher-than-world-average growth in China will be driven by rising awareness and improving disease monitoring as well as better accessibility and affordability for new treatments.

Meanwhile, the World Obesity Atlas estimates China’s population with obesity to rise by 22% from 2020 to reach 300 million in 2030, equivalent to an increase of prevalence rate from 15% in 2020 to 23% in 2030.

In 2022, the 11 globally approved GLP-1 drugs for diabetes had combined revenues of CNY1.21 billion from sample hospitals in China. In the first nine months of 2023, sales jumped 63% year-over-year to CNY1.4 billion. Though two foreign drugmakers accounted for 94% of the sales, an increased number of local players are now entering this field in China, with both innovative and generic GLP-1 candidates scheduled to launch from 2024.

The surging demand for GLP-1 drugs and resulting shortage could benefit the worldwide supply chain. Besides increasing investment into expanding internal production capacity, pharmaceutical companies may also outsource manufacturing capacities from contract research organizations (CROs) and contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) to increase supply faster and cheaper. This could also translate into opportunities for Chinese CROs, CDMOs and their overseas counterparts.

For a deeper look into GLP-1 drugs, read our full report.


    Jialin Zhang

    Jialin Zhang

    Head of China Healthcare Research

    Yi Xiang

    Yi Xiang

    China Healthcare analyst


This content has been prepared by Nomura solely for information purposes, and is not an offer to buy or sell or provide (as the case may be) or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell or enter into any agreement with respect to any security, product, service (including but not limited to investment advisory services) or investment. The opinions expressed in the content do not constitute investment advice and independent advice should be sought where appropriate.The content contains general information only and does not take into account the individual objectives, financial situation or needs of a person. All information, opinions and estimates expressed in the content are current as of the date of publication, are subject to change without notice, and may become outdated over time. To the extent that any materials or investment services on or referred to in the content are construed to be regulated activities under the local laws of any jurisdiction and are made available to persons resident in such jurisdiction, they shall only be made available through appropriately licenced Nomura entities in that jurisdiction or otherwise through Nomura entities that are exempt from applicable licensing and regulatory requirements in that jurisdiction. For more information please go to