On 17 May 2023, Interpharma and Santésuisse published their annual report showing drug price comparisons across Europe.
The good news is the drug price gap between Switzerland and its neighbours has narrowed. The extra paid for on-patent drugs in Switzerland is now 5.4% on average. However, the price premium paid for generic (+45.5%) and biosimilar (+27.5%) off-patent drugs remains enormous – generic drugs are simple compounds where the composition is identical to the original patent, while biosimilar drugs are copies of complex compounds that are similar but not identical.
In some cases, on-patent drugs are now cheaper in Switzerland than they are in countries such as Denmark and the UK. Although, they remain 11% and 16% higher in Switzerland than in Germany and France.
According to Verena Nold, a director at Santésuisse, important potential savings exist, especially for off-patent drugs. If the prices of these drugs were cut to the European level a billion francs could be saved, a sum that corresponds to 3% of health insurance premiums.
At the same time, one of the authors of the report is concerned that the search for cost savings is leading to a structural shift that is preventing patient access to innovative new drugs in Switzerland.