Biocon Looks for Chinese Partner to Test Generic Versions of Novo Nordisk's Drugs

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Biocon Looks for Chinese Partner to Test Generic Versions of Novo Nordisk's Drugs

Biocon, an Indian pharmaceutical company, is on the hunt for a collaborative partner in China to engage in clinical trials for generic variants of Novo Nordisk's popular diabetes drug Ozempic and weight loss medication Wegovy. The objective behind this search is to pave the way for the global release of these generic injectible drugs, with a specific interest in gaining access to the vast market in China, the world's second-largest economy. Amit Kaptain, head of Biocon's commercial active pharmaceutical ingredients business, highlighted the challenges involved in conducting these trials independently, noting the substantial financial investment of approximately $12 to $15 million required for a clinical trial in China.

The generics produced by Biocon would join a growing pool of similar products being developed by Chinese pharmaceutical companies ahead of the anticipated expiration of patent protection on semaglutide, a crucial component in both Ozempic and Wegovy, in early 2026 in China. China's pharmaceutical market has seen at least two local firms already applying to kickstart commercial sales, indicating the competitive landscape surrounding these drugs. Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic and Wegovy, has experienced significant success with these drugs, positioning the company as one of Europe's most valuable entities, fueled by the high demand for these treatments, with Ozempic even being informally used for weight loss purposes in some cases.

Notably, recent data suggests a concerning trend in China's population, with projections estimating a considerable increase in the number of overweight or obese adults by 2030. This projection, based on a 2020 study by Chinese public health researchers, indicates that the figures are expected to soar to 540 million and 150 million for overweight and obese individuals, respectively, marking a substantial rise compared to levels recorded in 2000.