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Health costs

Drug prices to drop but probably not until 2016

The cabinet has presented adjustments to the system of price setting for brand name drugs in Switzerland amid opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.

Interior Minister Alain Berset announced that the Federal Health Office would extend the list of countries used as a reference and publish the name of medication suspected of being overpriced.

Berset said the package of measures was aimed at stabilising price hikes, increasing transparency and boosting quality while ensuring fair conditions for the pharmaceutical industry.

“I’m confident that the measures will result in a clear drop in prices in 2016,” he told a media conference on Wednesday. The weakness of the euro compared with the Swiss franc was not likely to have an impact this year, he added.

Berset rejected allegations that the government had caved in to pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, which criticised initial plans for reform as insufficient and delayed implementation for about six months.


He said the government had created annual savings of CHF600 million ($628 million) in previous reforms over the past three years.

However, Berset acknowledged that there was still room for price cuts for generic drugs. The health office is due to present plans by the end of the year.

The price of drugs has been a bone of contention between the industry, health insurers, patients’ organisations and the government over the years.

Medical drugs make up about 20% of health costs in Switzerland.

The pharmaceutical association, Interpharma, said the latest decision was acceptable because the government had agreed to review the benefits of price controls.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch



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