Government to resume drug pricing controls

Medicines cost much more in high price Switzerland than in neighbouring countries Keystone

Switzerland will resume its practice of keeping pharmaceutical prices in check by comparing the cost of drugs in other countries. The policy saved CHF600 million ($618 million) between 2012 and 2014, but has had to be amended following a court decision late last year.

This content was published on July 6, 2016 with agencies

Interior Minister Alain Berset said on Wednesday that new savings of CHF180 million could be expected in the three years after price comparisons resume in 2017. In December, the Federal Court found partially in favour of a complaint from a pharmaceutical company that the price controls were unfair.

In future, the Federal Health Office must also weigh up the comparative effectiveness of different drugs that treat the same condition, and not just how much they cost in other countries.

Berset also said he wanted to turn his attention to the high price of generic drugs, which cost around 50% more in Switzerland than in other European countries. The price of generics will be tied to the volume of sales of the original drug – the price difference between the original and the generic should be greater, the higher the number of sales of the original.

The proposed method would result in additional savings of CHF80 million within three years of implementation, Berset said. Because it would need a revision of the law, the generic price reference system is not expected to be in place before 2019.

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