Switzerland

February 2021 Edition

Preface

Switzerland, long held up as an innovation powerhouse able to hold its own against the considerably larger neighbouring life science markets of France and Germany, has, in some respects, found the going tougher of late. The country’s domestic drug market has been enduring a sticky patch and could only muster a modest growth rate of 2.8 percent in 2020 as policymakers grappled with issues more familiar to the rest of the continent such as cost-containment. Nonetheless, the country’s life science companies continue to achieve global acclaim and attract the attention of investors the world over. 

As one of the elite drug development and biotech hubs of the world and an enduring life sciences FDI destination, Switzerland is a far more significant player than its 8.5 million population would suggest at first glance. With pharma today contributing a massive 40 percent of Swiss exports, this is a nation that has historically always managed to punch well above its weight on the international stage in medicines and medical technology.

This exclusive new report examines the fundamentals underpinning Switzerland’s continuing appeal to innovators across the pharma and medtech spectrum, new discoveries emerging from the country, market access challenges (and solutions), and the opportunities present in the generics and biosimilars segments. Via exclusive interviews with stakeholders across the value chain, a picture emerges of a nation that, while under more strain than ever, is holding firm as the pharma innovation hub of Europe.

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Forewords

Anne Lévy

Director of the Federal Office of Public Health, Swiss Confederation

Dear members of the international healthcare community,

Medical innovation is part of Switzerland’s DNA. In Basel, pharmaceutical powerhouses form the core of the cityscape. From Zurich to Lausanne, major research institutions and universities pave the way in science and innovation. Geneva hosts a thriving biotech hub and the WHO provides international health solutions to countries that have the deepest need for them. The healthcare industry is not only a key driver of Swiss economic prosperity, but also a key channel through which Switzerland contributes to the development of innovative therapies for the world’s population.

All areas of medicine have developed considerably in recent years. Some particularly innovative treatments now make it possible to treat diseases that gave us no hope even a few years ago. This entrepreneurial spirit brought by the healthcare industry in Switzerland, as well as highly educated medical staff, enables us to push further the limits of medicine every day.

However, this progress also creates major challenges for the Swiss healthcare system, which must remain affordable to all inhabitants. Its quality and success depend on a complex state of equilibrium. The necessary collaboration between healthcare professionals, health insurers and government authorities makes it possible to find effective and sustainable solutions to ensure that the entire population has access to the best therapies.

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting our healthcare systems to the test. These difficult times have shown that strong collaboration between all stakeholders in the healthcare system, whether private or public, was the only way to address this unprecedented crisis.

This successful combination of a strong entrepreneurial culture and a solid spirit of collaboration – the hallmark of the Swiss healthcare system – will be of great use in the coming years as healthcare becomes increasingly digitalised. The opportunities are promising, in terms of the way patients are treated and the way treatments are organised and enabled. However, there are also serious challenges such as how to ensure data protection. A first milestone will be reached in 2021 with the opening of the electronic patient record, a tool for the digitalisation of personal medical records.

Anne Lévy

Director of the Federal Office of Public Health, Swiss Confederation

René P. Bulhozer

Managing Director, Interpharma

Distinguished members of the life sciences community,

As managing director of Interpharma, the association of Switzerland’s research-based pharmaceutical industry, I am delighted to introduce the Healthcare & Life Science Review. I believe this platform offers the Swiss life sciences community an excellent opportunity to raise awareness regarding our country’s immense contributions to the advancement of medical and pharmaceutical sciences worldwide.

Recognized as the most innovative country in the world by many measures, Switzerland possesses the requisite assets to continue playing a significant leading role in the advancement of the healthcare and life sciences for years to come. Leading physicians and academics, working at world class hospitals and universities, come together with domestic and foreign life science innovators to bring the best quality of care to the Swiss people, creating an ecosystem that fosters yet more innovation, ultimately benefiting patients around the world.

However, we cannot rest on our laurels. Switzerland needs to put in place attractive framework conditions to ensure that we maintain our pharmaceutical industry’s globally-leading position, including on legal certainty, open export markets, and ensuring the availability of skilled labour.

The following report, with its comprehensive study of our industry’s footprint in Switzerland, not only sheds light on the issues essential to the continued advancement of our industry, but also offers industry stakeholders an excellent opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities that our sector is facing right now and in the years to come. With this Healthcare & Life Science Review, I invite all members of the life sciences industries to examine this report and learn more about Switzerland’s contributions to the life sciences and the health of people around the world.

Respectfully yours,

Dr. René P. Buholzer

managing director, Interpharma

Axel B. Müller

Managing Director, Intergenerika

Dear members of the international healthcare and life sciences community,

With a population of just 8.5 million, Switzerland has a special position in Europe with regard to its size and its highly regulated and expensive health care market. Against this background the Swiss generics industry actively supports the required and necessary savings in the health care system.

Nonetheless, the proposal of a reference price system, with which neighbouring countries like Germany have had harmful experiences, is up for vote by the political bodies. Under the leadership of Intergenerika, the association of generics and biosimilars manufacturers in Switzerland, other leading stakeholders of the health care system – above all doctors and pharmacists – are vehemently opposing the change to a reference price system.

The alliance has good arguments for this – a reference price system would not only not lead to the expected cost savings, but, above all, would disadvantage patients – in terms of the supply of medicines, compliance and additional financial burden due to extra out of pocket payments.

The ongoing corona crisis has shown the great dependence of Switzerland on Asian manufacturers of active ingredients. A reference price system would seriously weaken the position of small Switzerland in the competition for the supply of active ingredients.

In order to avert an impending reference price system, which would furthermore mean the economic failure of smaller generics manufacturers in particular, the alliance has proactively proposed measures that would lead to significant additional annual savings.

Warm Regards

 

Dr Axel B. Müller,

managing director, Intergenerika

Marcel Plattner

president, Association of Pharmaceutical Companies in Switzerland (vips)

Distinguished members of the life sciences community,

As president of the Association of Pharmaceutical Companies in Switzerland (vips), I am pleased to introduce the Healthcare & Life Sciences Review Switzerland. Through this report, the Swiss life sciences community can foster greater awareness of Switzerland’s contribution to global medical and pharmaceutical science.

Switzerland tops world innovation rankings on several metrics and in healthcare and the life sciences possesses a rich ecosystem of academics and doctors at top-class universities and hospitals, as well as private sector companies, big and small, bringing cutting-edge medical innovation to patients across the globe.

Through the wide-ranging overview of the Swiss pharmaceutical industry’s influence and impact contained within this report, industry stakeholders will be able to gain an idea of our immense progress and the challenges currently standing before us.

Respectfully yours,

 

Marcel Plattner

president, Association of Pharmaceutical Companies in Switzerland (vips)

Featured Content
Cover Story
Staying the Course?

Long heralded as an innovation powerhouse able to hold its own against the considerably larger neighbouring life science markets of France and Germany, Switzerland has, in some respects, found the going tougher of late. The country’s domestic drug market has been enduring a sticky patch and could only muster a modest growth rate of 2.8 percent in 2020 as policymakers grappled with issues more familiar to the rest of the continent such as cost-containment. Nonetheless, the country’s life science companies continue to achieve global acclaim and attract the attention of investors the world over…

Facts & Figures
Interviews
Articles

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2021. Healthcare & Life Sciences Review was produced by Pharmaboardroom.

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