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investigation Medical funding from big pharma continues apace

pharma machine

Pill-producing in a Santhera factory in canton Aargau. 

(© Keystone / Christian Beutler)

An investigative report by a group of Swiss newspapers has revealed the extent to which pharmaceutical companies are funding hospitals, doctors, and medical centres in the country.

CHF458 million ($456.5 million): this was the amount paid by the 60 pharma companies based in Switzerland to various arms of the medical profession between 2015 and 2017, according to a report by the Beobachter, Handelszeitung, Blick, and Le Temps newspapers.

Of the 2017 amount of CHF162.5 million (over CHF20 million more than in 2015), over half was paid to medical associations, university hospitals, and other organisations, the journalists reported based on data from the Scienceindustries pharma group.

Another CHF60 million of this was earmarked for research projects.

For its part, the Le Temps newspaper focused heavilyexternal link on the CHF7 million that found its way to medical groups responsible for further education of medical professionals, a figure that the French-speaking newspaper called “troubling”.

“Is it normal that doctors receive training funded by the industry for whom they will in future prescribe products?” it asks.


In terms of the overall 2017 figure, pharma giant Novartis was the most generous, allocating just under CHF20 million to various areas. Roche donated CHF13.9 million, and Bayer CHF12 million.

The industry, and its links to the medical profession, are nevertheless on a drive to increase transparency; some 73% of doctors are willing to publicly publish their names as recipients of such funding, according to Beobachterexternal link.

This marks a much more open situation than that in neighbouring Germany or Austria, for example, where publicly disclosed names only make up 30% of cases.

Novartis, for one, also refuses to donate to any source unwilling to claim publicly.


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