Watchdog calls for medicine prices to be slashed

Watchdog calls for medicine prices to be slashed
Generic medicines cost twice as much in Switzerland as in some other European countries, according to the Swiss price watchdog.

The federal price supervisor is calling for measures to lower drug prices in Switzerland after conducting a comparison of costs across Europe, news agencies reported.

The watchdog compared the prices of 20 active ingredients whose patents have expired in Switzerland and in 15 other European countries.

It discovered huge differences. For example, the cheapest generic drug in the Netherlands costs just 15 percent of the price paid in Switzerland.

In Sweden and the UK the same drug sells for 19 percent and 20 percent respectively of the Swiss price.

The European average price was 41 percent that of the price in Switzerland.

The price supervisor is now calling for the introduction of a reference price to ensure that health insurers all reimburse drugs with the same active ingredient by the same amount.

This would be based on the price of the cheapest generic – non-branded – version of the medicine.

The overseer also urged an annual review of medicine prices in Switzerland.

The Swiss consumer protection organization SKS supported the suggestions.

It said it was not acceptable that there are such huge price differences for the same medicines.

This drove up the cost of basic health insurance premiums, SKS said.

The planned measures could save hundreds of millions of francs with no loss of quality, it said.

Health insurance premiums are set to rise by an average of four percent next year.