2018 Helsana Drug Report creates transparency about medicinal products

Helsana today published its 2018 Drug Report, thus contributing to greater understanding of the Swiss medication market and its trends in terms of both volumes and costs. The analyses show that medication costs are now at an all-time high. In addition to a general section, this year’s edition also provides analyses of real and supposed innovations, the dispensation of medication in the outpatient sector and the vaccination coverage rate among children.


In 2017, spending on prescription drugs covered by basic insurance rose by CHF 0.5 billion to more than CHF 7.5 billion. Some 75% of all insured persons obtained medication covered by basic insurance. The share of individuals who obtained medication was highest in the canton of Geneva and lowest in the cantons of Thurgau, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden. The highest costs per medication were accounted for by the immunosuppressant blockbuster Remicade at CHF 128 million.

In the fifth edition of the report, the authors from the University Hospital of Basel (USB) and the European Centre of Pharmaceutical Medicine (ECPM) at the University of Basel focussed on the topics of innovations in the supply of medicinal products, the dispensation of medication in the outpatient sector and the vaccination coverage rate among children.

Newly launched medication: real innovations are rare

Several new products are launched on the drug market every year. However, not all of these products are actually innovations. The 2018 Drug Report shows that between 2014 and 2017 only 5% of newly approved preparations contained new active ingredient groups and 7% contained a new active ingredient from an already known active ingredient group. The remaining 88% comprised preparations with known active ingredients. These newly approved preparations are either generics or are based merely on minor changes to the formulation or a name change. The only real innovations recently are hepatitis C preparations; these medicinal products offer considerable additional benefits relative to existing therapy. This is also reflected in their costs: the highest total revenue between 2014 and 2017 was generated here.

On average, Mr and Mrs Swiss obtain eight active ingredients per year

A focus section describes the outpatient provision of medication and the involved service providers in Switzerland. On average, Mr and Mrs Swiss obtained eight active ingredients per year and an average of 4.3 different outpatient service providers were involved. Pharmacies (50%) are the most popular delivery channel, followed by basic suppliers (26%), hospital outpatient clinics (11%) and specialists (10%). In the high price segment, the shares of sales accounted for by mail-order firms, specialists and hospital outpatient clinics increased.

Vaccination coverage rates are too low as measured by the Swiss vaccination schedule

In a further analysis, the authors created a picture of the vaccination situation in Switzerland among children 13, 25 and 37 months after their birth. It was revealed that overall vaccination coverage rates remain too low as measured by the Swiss vaccination schedule. In not one canton was the targeted vaccination coverage rate of ≥ 95% for the third diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenza type b and poliomyelitis vaccination achieved for children aged 25 months. The share of non-vaccinated children was highest in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden at 14.2%, followed by Appenzell Ausserrhoden (10.1%) and Nidwalden (10.0%). The highest vaccination rates were recorded for children in the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Geneva and Basel-Landschaft.

Do you have questions?

We're here to help.

Contact us