People in Switzerland pay up to 400 percent more for medicine compared to EU

People in Switzerland pay up to 400 percent more for medicine compared to EU

The umbrella association for Swiss health insurance providers, SantéSuisse, has told 20 Minuten that the excessive cost of medicine is driving up insurance prices. Some basic medication was found to be up to 400 percent more expensive in Switzerland than in the country's immediate neighbours.

People in Switzerland pay nearly double for basic medicine

Speaking to the newspaper, the organisation said that insurers and people in Switzerland spend around 9 billion francs a year on prescription and generic medication. They added that around 25 percent of the cost of basic health insurance goes into funding the purchase of essential medicines.

“In Switzerland, we pay far too much for medicines compared to abroad”, noted Matthias Müller, spokesperson for SantéSuisse. The organisation calculated that the cost of patented drugs are an average of 9 percent more expensive in Switzerland than in the rest of Europe. For generic medication, the Swiss pay double on average.

Asprin 410 percent more expensive in Switzerland than in EU

For example, a box of pantoprazole (a drug used to treat gastric reflux) is 12,95 francs in Switzerland compared to around 2,69 francs in Germany - a markup of 394 percent. For simple aspirin, SantéSuisse found that some Swiss stores are selling the drug at a 410 percent markup compared to the cost in Germany.

Müller concluded that reducing medicine prices will go a long way to reducing the cost of basic and supplemental health insurance in Switzerland - premiums are expected to rise by 7,5 percent in 2023 after rising by 6,6 percent in 2022. The organisation predicted that 400 million francs a year can be saved by the government imposing price caps on medication and pharmacies reducing their profit margins on basic medicines.

Pharmacies deny overcharging customers

In response, the association of pharmacists, PharmaSuisse, told 20 Minuten that it was not overcharging customers, arguing that 60 percent of their medicines are sold at a near-loss once salaries, logistics, infrastructure and production costs are taken into account. They added that pharmacists are not the only ones charging margins on medicine, doctors and hospitals do it too.

Speaking to the newspaper, the Federal Office of Public Health said that it has already been able to save the consumer 1,2 billion francs since 2012 by negotiating prices with pharmaceutical firms. Spokesperson Andrea Arcidiacono announced that they will now be looking to set new price models for medication intended for the treatment of cancer and rare diseases, and promised to reduce the price of so-called “generic drugs”.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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