Why are new medications expensive?

The development of a new drug requires considerable investment until its approval. So that the manufacturing companies can recapture their costs, the drugs are protected by a patent for up to 20 years. That means the manufacturers enjoy complete exclusivity. For this reason, new medicines are generally very expensive.

What are generic drugs?

Generic drugs are imitation drugs that contain the same ingredients as the original formula, but are sold under a different name. They have the same dosage and medicinal properties and meet the same safety and quality requirements as the originals. They are, however, 25% less expensive on average.

How can I get a generic drug?

As a patient, you have the right to co-decide what services you want to call upon in the public health sector. Of course, the advice of your doctor or pharmacist will be pivotal in this respect.

The doctor decides which drug is best suited for your health problem. You, however, have the right to decide at any time whether you want to have an expensive original preparation or an affordable generic drug.

Since the beginning of 2001, pharmacists have had the right, according to the Swiss Health Insurance Act (KVG), to dispense an affordable generic drug in place of the prescribed original preparation. This substitution is possible whenever the doctor has not explicitly prescribed the original preparation in the prescription. The pharmacist is obligated to inform the prescribing doctor about the dispensing of the generic drug.

What are necessary medications?

Necessary medications are prescribed by a doctor. In consequence, health insurers have to cover the costs for them. In Switzerland, these medications, which are mandatory for health insurers, are listed on the various lists provided by the Federal Office of Public Health.

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