According to the newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, Switzerland’s federal government wants to allow Switzerland’s residents to claim for drugs bought abroad. Prices across the border are generally far lower.
As recently as March 2017, the government told insurers that anyone buying medicines abroad would have to pay for them out of their own pockets. Now they appear to be reconsidering.
The NZZ said that drugs with expired patents cost on average 61% more in Switzerland than abroad, and generic drugs are 143% more costly.
An article in 24 Heures in March 2017 compared the prices of some common drugs. In Switzerland, a 16-pack of 500mg Dafalgan Odis (Paracetamol) costs CHF 8.60. A comparable French product, Doliprane, costs 1.12 euros for a box of 12 tablets the same size. 12 tablets of 500 mg of Algifor (Ibuprofen) costs CHF 9.90 compared to 2.50 euros for a similar box of Advil in France.
Algifor is a brand belonging to Basel-based Galenica. In addition to drugs, the company owns the drug retailers Amavita and Sunstore as well as a share in Coop Vitality. So Galenica Group makes drugs, wholesales them, and sells them via its own pharmacies.
The whole thing is enough to give anyone a headache, creating a self-reinforcing feedback loop that keeps you reaching for ever more expensive Swiss pain killers.
The Swiss government will make a final decision spring next year.