Around CHF 8 billion is spent annually on medicines prescribed for specific diseases in Switzerland. 20 drugs account for about a fifth of this cost, many of them sold at prices negotiated in secret. These confidential drug price negotiations are one of the reasons the cost of Swiss healthcare is rising so fast, claims Curafutura, an association representing Swiss health insurance companies.
According to Curafutura drugs aimed at specific diseases cost patients and taxpayers in Switzerland CHF 8 billion for the year up to the end of September 2022. This represents close to CHF 1,000 per person. The most expensive 20 of these medicines cost CHF 1.7 billion. In addition, the cost of the seven drugs among the top 20 that are priced based on confidential negotiations rose 215%, a rate far higher than the average rate for the top 20 (+13%) and the remaining medicines on the list (+5%).
Curafutura says the lack of price transparency on these secret negotiations is largely to blame for rapidly rising drug prices and healthcare costs. The association is demanding greater transparency. Only when health insurers know the prices negotiated can they influence them, it said. In addition, confidential pricing has not moderated prices, according to Roman Sonderegger, CEO of Helsana. Instead it has led to additional costs, he said.
Curafutura recommends a drug pricing system known as the budgetary impact model, a model which has been approved by parliament but not yet enacted. This system triggers an automatic price reduction when total spending on a drug exceeds CHF 20 million. If applied only to the drug Eylea, an expensive drug used to treat eye degeneration, this model would have saved CHF 174 million over the last 12 months. The association said that it is baffled by the inaction on implementing a model that has already been approved by parliament.