Switzerland to cut drug prices by nearly 20 pct

GENEVA, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) — Switzerland will cut prices of 288 medicines by an average of 20 percent starting from Dec. 1, saving patients nearly 100 million Swiss francs (about 100 million U.S. dollars), the Federal Office of Public Health said on Friday.

The move, which comes at a time of debate over the high costs of medicines in Switzerland, will bring about on average 18.8 percent of the drugs’ prices, which will affect, for example, Dafalgan (paracetamol), ASS Cardio (aspirin) and children’s oral drops Becetamol.

Some medicines will even see a drop in price of up to 30 percent, with a 50 percent reduction for the diuretic Aldactone, a medicine used for high blood pressure.

The federal health office said that 255 medicines would see no price change because they were “economically sustainable” in Switzerland compared with abroad and with other medicines.

It also took a look at generic medicines, co-marketing medicines with same product but different brands, and biosimilars that are almost identical copy of original product, and found that price reductions could be made in 134 out of 237 cases.

It’s the second time that the health office has cut the price of medicines, the first time coming at the end of 2017. According to the health office, the drug price cuts have allowed for definite savings of some 225 million Swiss francs (about 224 U.S. dollars) over 350 medicines, more than the expected 190 million Swiss francs.

Much debate on the cost of medicines has been staged in Switzerland. In September the government announced its intention to cap prices for generic drugs as part of a package of measures to reduce rising health costs in the country. In spring it was revealed that generic drugs cost twice as much in Switzerland as in other parts of Europe, while patented drugs were about nine percent more expensive, according to a study.

Several groups, including the price watchdog, consumer advocates and the umbrella organization of health insurers, have been calling for years for prices to be reduced.

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