In this sentence:

That means a potentially monumental tab for insurers: By 2030, J.P. Morgan analysts expect the amount spent on GLP-1 obesity treatments in the U.S. to be about $50 billion, or a tenth of the $421 billion spent on outpatient drugs in the U.S. in 2021.

What does "by 2030" mean:

before 2030
including 2030
each year until 2030
cumulative 2030

  • yeah it answers one part of my question. in the Sentence: 50b is for each year or it's cumulative?
    – mj125
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 10:04
  • 1
    Each year. Not cumulative. The fact that a total figure was given for one year (2021) indicates this. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 10:15
  • "High fructose corn syrup is great" -- Big Pharma. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 10:20
  • 1
    Note that whereas by 3 pm tomorrow specifies an exact date/time, by 2030 specifies a range of date/times. The text would in principle be ambiguous as to whether the expectations will be met at the beginning or end (or anywhere in between) of the specified year. But because the expected amount is an annual total in this exact case, we know it applies to the entire year collectively (and it's a value that can't be accurately established until some time after the fact). It's not really a reference to by that time, more [the annual total] for that year [will be]. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 11:47
  • If we limit the analysis to the quoted paragraph only, the writing is so unclear that we cannot say whether the amount spent by 2030 is a cumulative total or an annual amount. Even the numbers do not add up: $50 billion is not a tenth of $421 billion. If we wanted to say that the amount spent in calendar year 2030 is expected to be $50 billion, we could say "JP Morgan analysts expect the amount spent on obesity drugs to increase every year and in calendar year 2030 to be as much as $50 billion –more than a tenth of the amount spent in 2021 on all outpatient drugs combined." Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 18:16

3 Answers 3


It is probably impossible to be certain from a pure grammatical analysis. But reading this in context, I understand that the amount spent on GLP-1 is changing and probably increasing, year on year.

JP Morgan's analysis forecasts that the amount spend on GLP1 will soon exceed $50 billion per year, and it will reach or exceed that value in or before 2030.

However, this is a forecast and a prediction, not a known fact. So debating if the forecast is "no later than 2030" or "before 2030" is a detail that is irrelevant to this context. You should understand this as "a massive and increasing amount of money" and "within a few years from now".

  • 1
    It's not "debatable" that the meaning is "in or before 2030" or "not later than 2030". That is indeed the meaning of the phrase. What is debatable is whether the prediction is accurate, uses valid data, and so forth. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 12:54
  • I don't think I said "debatable".
    – James K
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 15:10
  • 1
    The point is, neither I nor Kyamond are debating what the paragraph means. The paragraph is unclear and from it alone we cannot determine whether the total is annual or cumulative. But we are saying what the phrase "by 2030" means, as it has a fixed meaning. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 18:22
  • Yes, but reading between the lines, this is fairly irrelevant.
    – James K
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 20:27
  • Not clear what "this" refers to in your last comment. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 21:13

It means: 'not later than 2030'


by [time-phrase] means "as of" [time-phrase], that is, not later than [time phrase].

The phrase is often used with situations where something is expected to happen, or when someone is waiting for something to happen, or waiting for something to arrive, or warning about something that may happen:

The shipment is supposed to arrive by [the end of next week].

The vendor promised the shipment would arrive by [October 15th].

The thaw of the glacier is predicted to occur by [2030].

The payment is due by [October 1st].

The train will arrive by [11AM].

The rat population in the city is expected to have tripled by [autumn 2025].

NOTE: The only numerical calculation involved is chronological. Any other form of calculation (e.g. population, temperature, cost, rate of change, etc) will be expressed by some other phrase(s) in the sentence.

P.S. Here is how it should not be used, taken from the label on a perishable food product that I purchased recently:

  • fresh by September 22

That should say "fresh until September 22".

  • Why the downvote? Anything inaccurate there? Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 12:52
  • The meaning of the phrase is independent of how it is being used (or abused) in the paragraph quoted. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 18:18

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