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Patients vs. patents Swiss campaign to make lifesaving drugs affordable

A picture of the Novartis building in

Public Eye says the pharmaceutical industry is responsible for the price explosion of new treatments. 

(Keystone)

Swiss authorities must act to make lifesaving drugs more affordable by introducing compulsory licensing, says NGO Public Eye. 

The organisation published a report on Tuesday entitled “Protect patients, not patents” which criticises the Swiss pharma industry pricing model.

“Backed by a monopoly and market exclusivity, pharma companies can essentially set prices as they please,” said the Swiss NGO.

Public Eyeexternal link says the pharmaceutical industry external linkis responsible for the price explosion of new treatments, particularly cancer medication – with implications for patients worldwide.

It launched an “affordable drugs” campaignexternal link to pressure the Swiss Federal Council to introduce compulsory licencing, an instrument which allows cheaper generic medications to be introduced to the market despite the existence of a patent.

+ Read more about the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the Swiss economy

Public Eye argues the Swiss government has for too long put the interest of the pharmaceutical industry before the needs of the patients both in Switzerland and abroad.

It accused the authorities of being influenced by the “aggressive lobbying carried out by large Basel-based companies,” which are responsible for sky-rocketing prices.

Introducing compulsory licensing in Switzerland would make the Swiss healthcare system more sustainable, “send a strong signal to the international community and allow access to essential drugs for millions of people”, Public Eye wrote.

The appeal is backed by the Swiss Cancer League, numerous experts in the field and well-known Swiss politicians, such as former Federal Councillor Ruth Dreifuss.


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