Novo Nordisk, a global pharmaceuticals company known for its diabetes drugs, said it will introduce 10 innovative drugs in the Chinese market by 2025-26. It will also continue to invest in China for more treatment-related products.
Christine Zhou, president of Novo Nordisk China, the company's local unit, said: "There are about 61 million untreated diabetes patients in China and we are committed to addressing the increasing diabetes burden now and in the coming years.
"Novo Nordisk in China has a positive outlook and we will continue to explore opportunities to drive our leadership in the diabetes market, and accordingly we expect the organization will continue to expand, to help improve healthcare for diabetics in China."
Last year, the company's global sales revenue stood at $17.59 billion, up 2.4 percent on a year-on-year basis, with the Chinese market contributing 10 percent of the total, the second-largest such chunk.
"We have been in China for 24 years. To us, the China market offers us a long-term growth opportunity," Zhou said.
Copenhagen-headquartered Novo Nordisk was one of the first companies to start the entire value chain in diabetes drugs in China. It established its Beijing office in 1994, a world-class manufacturing plant in Tianjin in 1995, and a research and development center in Beijing in 1997.
According to the China Health Economics Association's data, 114 million people suffer from diabetes in China, the world's largest such group in a single country. Diabetes has become a major public health concern.
According to a forecast conducted by the International Diabetes Federation, the total health cost of diabetes-related diseases will reach $72 billion by 2040 in China.
According to a report by Chyxx.com, an authoritative industry information network, theoretically, there will be 150 million diabetes patients in China by 2040. China and Latin America are the world's fastest-growing markets for insulin products - growing by more than 10 percent year-on-year.
In terms of the general sales volume of insulin in China in 2016, Novo Nordisk had nearly 61 percent of the market share, ranking first. In terms of the sales volumes of second-and third-generation insulin products, it again grabbed the top spot with 59-percent and 62-percent market shares in the two segments.
"The diabetes market in China experienced rapid development in the past decade. People's awareness of diabetes had improved. However, we noticed there is an uptrend in diabetes complications, and the number of young patients has risen," said Zhang Kezhou, vice-president of Clinical Development, Medical and Regulatory Affairs for Novo Nordisk China.
"This is why we are increasing our investment in China to focus on the constantly changing environment."
Although only half of the world's population live in cities, the latter are home to two-thirds of people with diabetes.
In response to the situation, Novo Nordisk joined hands with University College London and the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen to launch a global program called Cities Changing Diabetes, aimed at preventing more than 100 million new cases of diabetes by 2045.
China's Shanghai, Tianjin, Xiamen in Fujian province, Hangzhou and Beijing are among the 17 global city partners. The program's goal is to pioneer new approaches to map the challenge, understand the areas of greatest risk and vulnerability, and design interventions that are delivering real impact.
"We will bring about two innovative products to China soon. The injectable semaglutide is about to get approval from the China Food and Drug Administration. The oral semaglutide will have its clinical trials next year. As a forerunner in the diabetes area, we will increase efforts in R&D and bring more innovative products to the country," said Jeppe Sturis, senior principal scientist of insulin research at Novo Nordisk, during the Innovation and Emerging Industries Development held last month.