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Switzerland and pharma forge pricing and access pact

Prices of 2,500 drugs set to fall when price referencing scheme begins

The Swiss government has cut a deal with the pharmaceutical industry aimed at reducing litigation on drug pricing in return for speedier access to market.

Switzerland's interior minister Alain Berset announced the accord at a press conference on Friday, according to Swissinfo.ch, and said that savings for Swiss patients from the agreement could amount to CHF 720m ($773m) over the next three years.

The deal could end years of wrangling between the authorities in Switzerland and the drug industry. Federal authorities have long complained that prices for medicines are higher than in EU countries, while pharma companies say new medicines take too long to reach the market. 

Health insurers have also suggested that the changes could cut premiums for customers by around 1 per cent, according to local news reports. 

Under the new regime - which will come into effect from June 1 - the prices of around 2,500 medicines in Switzerland will fall as a result of being referenced for the first time against their cost overseas.

Pharma companies will drop their legal opposition to the referencing scheme and, in return, the Swiss regulatory authorities have pledged to shorten the approval procedure for new drugs to just 60 days from what the drug industry claims is a current average of around 200 days.

Around 800 drugs will be price-adjusted each year, said Berset, and a series of price reductions ordered in March 2012 will now become effective.

The new system covers the 2013-2015 period and will be up for re-negotiation thereafter, said Berset.

Switzerland's pharmaceutical market was worth around CHF 5.08bn at ex-factory prices last year, according to industry group VIPS, and grew around 2 per cent over 2011 despite the introduction of a number of innovative products. 

IMS Health predicted earlier this year that federal price controls will peg back growth further between now and 2016.

15th April 2013

From: Sales, Regulatory

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