The CDMO/CMO & Suppliers’ Report: The Rising Strength of Tides

Double-digit growth is projected for the markets for peptide and oligonucleotide synthesis, creating opportunities for CDMOs/CMOs.

Double-digit growth is projected for the markets for peptide and oligonucleotide synthesis, creating opportunities for CDMOs/CMOs & suppliers that specialize in these areas. Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic/Wegovy and Lilly’s Mounjaro/Zepbound, blockbusters for diabetes and obesity, are setting the high mark for peptide drugs as the increasing use of synthesized oligos in therapeutics and a growing focus on personalized medicine drive growth in oligonucleotides.

By Patricia Van Arnum, Editorial Director, DCAT, pvanarnum@dcat.org 

Market growth
The market outlook for the peptide synthesis is strong. The market is projected to increase from $90.1 billion in 2023 to $157.5 billion by the end of 2028, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.8% from 2023 through 2028, according to a recent analysis by BCC Research, a Boston, Massachusetts based business intelligence firm.

The market for peptide synthesis is being driven by increased demand for peptide-based drugs. Notable contributors are certain glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists, which can be used to treat Type 2 diabetes and for weight management, which are a rising class of blockbuster drugs (defined as drugs with sales of $1 billion or more).

Leading the charge in the GLP-1 market are peptide-based drugs by Eli Lilly and Company and Novo Nordisk, each with blockbusters. Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic (semaglutide), for treating Type 2 diabetes, posted  2023 sales of DKK 95,718 million ($13.8 billion). Ozempic’s peptide backbone is produced by yeast fermentation. Semaglutide is also the active ingredient in Wegovy, Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster drug for treating obesity. Lilly’s Mounjaro (tirzepatide), another peptide-based drug, posted 2023 sales of $5.16 billion. Mounjaro is a glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and GLP-1 receptor agonist. It was approved in the US for treating Type 2 diabetes in 2022, and in 2023, the same active ingredient, tirzepatide, was approved in the US for treating chronic weight management under the brand name, Zepbound. Mounjaro is a 39-amino-acid modified peptide based on the GIP sequence. Tirzepatide contains 2 non-coded amino acids, a C-terminal amide, and Lys residue that is attached to 1,20-eicosanedioic acid via a linker.

Overall, the GLP-1 agonist market is poised for strong growth, with a CAGR of 19.2% from 2023 to 2029, reaching a market size of $105 billion in 2029, according to estimates (as of March 6, 2024) by GlobalData, a market research and business intelligence firm. It points to five key drugs: Lilly’s Mounjaro and four drugs by Novo Nordisk—Ozempic, Wegovy, CagriSema (semaglutide and cagrilintide) (now in late-stage development), and Rybelsus (semaglutide) (Rybelsus is an oral version of semaglutide; Ozempic and Wegovy are injection-based delivery of semaglutide)—which collectively are forecast to capture 83% of the GLP-1 agonist market by 2029. Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro is expected to lead in sales, with projected 2029 sales of $33.4 billion, according to estimates by GlobalData.  With a large portfolio of products of GLP-1 drugs, Novo Nordisk is expected to capture 55% of the market share in 2029.

Other tide strength
Although a niche sector, the market outlook for oligonucleotides, synthesized pieces of chemically modified RNA or DNA, is strong. The global oligonucleotide synthesis market is expected to grow from $7.0 billion in 2023 and to reach $11.7 billion by the end of 2028, representing a CAGR of 11.0% from 2023 through 2028, according to BCC Research. The market for oligonucleotide synthesis consists of four main product types: oligonucleotide drugs, synthesized oligos, equipment and reagents, and services. On a drug level, market growth is led by increased use of synthesized oligos in therapeutic applications and the overall trend to more focused target/precision medicines.

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