Many drugs come in two forms: expensive branded drugs and cheaper generic copies. Switzerland’s Federal Council hopes a shift to cheaper generic and bio-similar medicines can shave CHF 250 million from Switzerland’s rapidly rising cost of healthcare, reported SRF.
New rules on medicine choices and health insurance were already set to come into force on 1 January 2024. However, this week the Federal Council announced that it will make the new rules tougher that first planned in the hope of achieving overall savings of CHF 250 million.
To increase the uptake of generics the Federal Council hopes to push patients to demand them from healthcare professionals by penalising patients for using branded drugs. Currently, patients make a 10% contribution to the purchase of medicines. However, when a patient uses a branded medicine that could have been substituted with a generic drug it rises to 20%. This week, the Federal Council announced it would increase this contribution to 40% from 1 January 2024. If there is a provable medical reasons against using a generic drug then the 40% contribution will not apply. However, such proof would need to be backed up with concrete research.
In addition to the low use of generic drugs in Switzerland, the prices of these copycat drugs in Switzerland are roughly double the prices paid across the rest of Europe. The Federal Council wants these prices to come down. For drugs with a volume over CHF 25 million the generic must be 70% cheaper. For those where consumption is between CHF 4 and 8 million the generic must be 30% to 40% cheaper, and for drugs with a volume below CHF 4 million the discount must be at least 20%. These percentages can also be increased during triennial reviews.
The Federal Council hopes that all of these measures lead to an annual cost reduction of around CHF 250 million francs, a sum that comes out at around CHF 27 per person. Given the recent explosion in Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance premiums, these savings represent a very small improvement. But they are a start.
SRF article (in German)