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High drugs prices could raise blood pressure

The Swiss pay twice as much for generic drugs as residents of other western European nations, a study has found.

The Swiss pharmaceutical industry and health insurance companies came to the results by comparing prices of the 98 best-selling generic products in Switzerland and six other countries.

Representatives of the pharmaceuticals and insurance firms said on Monday that the comparison was carried out to ensure an objective discussion on prices, as part of the larger debate about controlling costs in the Swiss healthcare system.

The study found that the 200 most-sold brand name drugs were nine per cent more expensive than the same medications in France, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Austria and Britain.

However, the companies defended the higher prices in Switzerland, saying there was potential to reduce them by no more than 25 per cent. This would bring savings of about SFr210 million ($208 million).

The Swiss Consumers Foundation welcomed the efforts by the pharmaceutical industry to investigate prices, but said it was only a beginning.

In a statement published on its website, the foundation repeated its demand that expensive drugs should only be reimbursed by health insurance companies when there is a therapeutic reason for prescribing them.

Sales of prescription drugs accounted for 22 per cent, or more than SFr4 billion, of all claims made to health insurers last year. and agencies