Parliament has come out in favour of allowing the parallel import of some goods currently protected by patent in Switzerland.
This could reduce prices, since such imports from the European Union could be sold more cheaply than identical ones made in Switzerland.
The House of Representatives on Monday evening voted in favour of allowing the imports, following Senate approval in September. The government opposes such imports.
But parliament has made an exception of pharmaceuticals, which would still be protected.
Supporters of parallel imports say a lifting of the ban could save up to SFr1.4 billion ($1.3 billion) per year.
But opponents warn that patent protection is crucial to enable the country to safeguard inventions, research and jobs.