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Which medications in Switzerland are set to become more expensive?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Which medications in Switzerland are set to become more expensive?
Ibuprofen is among drugs that will become more expensive. Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

The cost of medications in Switzerland is already quite a bit higher than elsewhere in Europe. And now certain drugs will become even pricier.

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Swiss consumers pay significantly more for their medicines than those in neighbouring European countries. 

This is what emerges from various data published over the years.

"In Switzerland, we pay far too much for medicines compared to abroad," Matthias Müller, a spokesperson for SantéSuisse, an umbrella group for Swiss health insurance providers, told Swiss media in 2023. 

Even the price of many generic medicines is twice as high in Switzerland as in nine EU countries.

For instance, generics are on average 48 percent cheaper in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden than in Switzerland, according to a price comparison.

And prices for a number of commonly-used drugs will rise even further in the near future.

Why is that?

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is adapting a new model for calculating the distribution margin. 

A distribution margin is the difference between the distributor’s cost of acquiring goods and the price at which those goods are sold.

From July 1st, 2024, inexpensive medicines whose factory price is less than, or equal to, 15 francs will become more expensive.

This change will affect more than half of medications currently being sold in Switzerland.

As a result of this move, “additional costs of several hundred million will be passed on to patients,” according to Intergenrika, which represents generic drug manufacturers in Switzerland. 

In a nutshell, consumers will pay slightly lower prices for medicines that were previously more expensive, but will also end up paying more  for those that are currently cheaper – like generics.

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Which meds will become more expensive?

Pain medications are among those set to become pricier.

One of them is ibuprofen, a popular anti-inflammatory.

While a box of 20 400-mg tablets today costs 5.92 francs, its price will practically double to 11 francs from July 1st.

Though its manufacturing cost will remain the same as today – 1.58 francs – the distribution margin will increase from 4.19 to 9.09 francs.

The same goes for another often-used pain medication, Ponstan.

Ten 500-mg tablets will cost 11.21 francs instead of 6.19 currently.

The manufacturer will continue to charge 1.82 francs for the drug, but the distribution margin will increase from 4.22 to 9.11 francs.

And even generic drugs, which are cheaper – and often by much – will get pricier, at consumers' expense.

Will some drugs be cheaper?

Yes, some will become slightly less expensive.

One example is the anticoagulant Rivaroxaban whose price will drop from 281 to 267 francs.

READ ALSO: Why you will pay more for certain drugs in Switzerland 2024?

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