Overview

Medication costs in Switzerland have risen to CHF 7.5 billion

Helsana’s 2018 Drug Report shows that medication costs covered by basic insurance in Switzerland are at an all-time high, having risen by 5.5 per cent between 2016 and 2017 alone.

The 2018 Helsana Drug Report is the fifth edition of the report to create transparency in the Swiss market for medicinal products. The new report shows that medication costs covered by basic insurance have risen by another half a billion Swiss francs, or 5.5 per cent, between 2016 and 2017 alone. The costs currently amount to CHF 7.5 billion. The costs per medication received have also risen from CHF 61 in 2014 to CHF 66 in 2017. This corresponds to an increase of 8.4 per cent. Around three-quarters of all Swiss residents received medication covered by basic insurance in 2017. The canton of Geneva had the highest percentage, while the cantons of Thurgau and Appenzell are at the lower end of the scale.

Most Swiss patients obtain their medication from pharmacies. One in two do it this way. A quarter of all medication is obtained from general practitioners, 11 per cent from hospital outpatient clinics and a further 10 per cent from specialists. More and more patients are now obtaining highly expensive medication (from CHF 1,000) however from mail-order firms, specialists or hospital outpatient clinics.

New active ingredients: genuine innovations are rare

Primarily innovations on the pharmaceuticals market are driving up the costs. New medication can be patented and exclusively marketed. On closer inspection, it becomes clear that many of these new preparations are in fact fake innovations. Their molecular profile varies slightly from the original preparation and there is little therapeutic difference between them. Just 5 per cent of all newly approved medication are preparations with new active ingredients. These genuine innovations include 20 new cancer drugs and 2 new immunosuppressants.

The highest total revenue between 2014 and 2017 was generated by Antiviralia for the treatment of hepatitis C. Notably Harvoni und Sovaldi with total revenue of more than CHF 400 million. These medicinal products are rightfully classed as genuine innovations and proved to be of great additional benefit to patients during this period.

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