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Medicine law gains overwhelming support

Switzerland's House of Representatives has overwhelmingly backed government proposals for a new law on medicinal products. However, it has rejected calls for increased producer liability, in order to safeguard innovation in the sector.

This content was published on March 13, 2000 - 00:27

Switzerland's House of Representatives has overwhelmingly backed government proposals for a new law on medicinal products. However, it has rejected calls for increased producer liablity, in order to safeguard innovation in the sector.

The draft law was approved by 113 votes to 4, with 33 abstentions. It's main aim is to lay down a uniform national regulatory framework, ironing out discrepancies between federal and cantonal rules and bringing Switzerland in line with the European Union.

It is designed to protect human and animal health by ensuring that all products placed on the market are safe, reliable and of high quality. However, in what is being seen as a victory for the industry, the House said producers should not be held liable for the risks involved in developing new products.

Such producer liability, delegates said, would force companies to take out high-cost insurance. This, they suggested, would be too expensive for small and medium sized firms and would effectively stifle innovation.

The House also refused to condone increased fines for companies which deliberately break the law in order to increase profit. The government and a key parliamentary committee had earlier called for fines to be set at a level up to three times higher than the profit obtained.

However, although there was support from the move, notably from the Social Democrats, the move was rejected by 73 votes to 64.

The House approved a number of other proposals, including a call for the creation of a new Swiss institute for medicinal products. The institute will be responsible for implementing the law, authorising new products and keeping the public informed.

The proposals must now go before the Senate.

Swissinfo with agencies

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