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Health news Federal office decides drug price cuts

Swiss pharmacy

A trip to the pharmacy could soon be cheaper

(© KEYSTONE / GAETAN BALLY)

There will be an average drop of almost 20% in the price of 288 medicines from December 1, the Federal Office of Public Health says. Savings of around CHF100 million ($100 million) are expected.

The move comes at a time of debate over the high costs of medicines in Switzerland.

The price reduction, which averages 18.8%, will for example affect Dafalgan (paracetamol), ASS Cardio (aspirin) and children’s oral drops Becetamol. Some medicines will even see a drop in price of up to 30%, with a 50% reductionexternal link for the diuretic Aldactone, a medicine used for high blood pressure.

In a statement on Fridayexternal link, the health office said 255 medicines would see no price change because they were “economically sustainable” in Switzerland compared with abroad and with other medicines.

It also took a look at generic medicines, co-marketing medicinesexternal link (same product, different brands) and biosimilars (almost identical copy of original product) and found price reductions could be made in 134 out of 237 cases.

This is the second timeexternal link that the health office has cut the price of medicines, the first time coming at the end of 2017. This has allowed for definite savings in this case of CHF225 million, over 350 medicines, the health office said. This was more than the expected CHF190 million.

Debate

There has been much debate in Switzerland about the cost of medicines. In September the government announced its intention to cap prices for generic drugs as part of a package of measures to reduce rising health costs in Switzerland.

In spring it was revealed that generic drugs cost twice as much in Switzerland as in other parts of Europe. Patented drugs were 9% more expensive, a study found.

+ Read more about the study’s findings here

Several groups, including the price watchdog, consumer advocates and the umbrella organisation of health insurers, have been calling for years for prices to be reduced.

Keystone-SDA/FOPH/RTS/swissinfo.ch/ilj

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