In general we are not only living longer today, but also remaining healthy for longer. A healthier lifestyle, medical advances and, not least, also new medicines have all contributed to this trend. And the development is continuing. Thanks to research and innovation, the possibilities of medicine today are expanding at a phenomenal rate. AIDS is no longer the catastrophic diagnosis it once was and has become a chronic, treatable disease; the survival chances in many types of cancer have significantly increased; hepatitis C can be cured in most cases; and we have medicines to hand that can reduce the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke. Treatment is also becoming increasingly better at targeting individual patient groups. Not so long ago, all patients with a certain disease were treated with the same medication. While uniform standard treatments are effective in some patients, they may be ineffective in others.
Today, doctors can determine the causes of disease and, thanks to new diagnostic options, are better able to predict how well a patient will respond to treatment. To provide targeted therapy for patients, doctors today - especially in the treatment of cancer - are using a combination of innovative medicines (combination therapies) or medicines outside their usual indication areas. Tailored treatments of this kind produce better results. New and innovative medicines may well be more expensive than older products as a rule, but they also reduce costs because they result in shorter hospital stays and allow follow-up treatments to be avoided.
To ensure that all patients also have access to the best treatment in future, greater flexibility is needed in the established pricing model and in today’s reimbursement system. And above all a rethink is needed that gets us away from focusing purely on costs and gives greater consideration to the results of new treatments. This is a challenge for all partners involved in the health system.
The dialogue with health insurers about the reimbursement of costs for innovative combination therapies in the treatment of cancer led to three such therapies being included in the Specialties List (SL) in the spring of 2016. Interpharma will also continue to advocate for flexible and pragmatic solutions in future so that all patients can be assured of access to the latest treatments.
THOMAS B. CUENI
Secretary General and Director
When people look at Switzerland, they think of beautiful landscapes and fine chocolate. Those who are familiar with Switzerland know about its high-performance industries. One of these, which underpins the strength of Switzerland as an industrial centre, is the pharmaceutical industry.
Research-based pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland employ more than 40,000 people, more than double the number 20 years ago. They develop and produce medicines that relieve suffering and save lives all over the world. Switzerland exports medicines worth more than 70 billion francs each year – more than half of these go to Europe. Europe is the biggest and most important market for leading medicines from Switzerland.
If this is to remain the case, there are two key factors that are crucial for pharmaceutical companies: firstly that they can supply their products to other countries with a minimum of bureaucracy; and secondly that they can find qualified people to drive the research and development of new medicines. The bilateral agreements guarantee this. But both would be at risk if the mass immigration initiative were implemented word for word.
The bilateral agreements have served us well in the past. As a country without its own raw materials, Switzerland has managed to become one of the most successful countries in the world through a good balance between sovereignty and economic openness – with but not within the EU. For the future, we need to keep a cool head and find a pragmatic solution that allows us to continue along the bilateral path and at the same time control migration to our country with appropriate restraint.
However, the EU and our neighbours must also agree to this. So let us show due care for a relationship with the EU that is based on partnership. If we do not do this and we close our minds to a pragmatic solution, we will be breaking with the traditional, basic values of our country that carry the promise of success. We will only be economically strong, innovative and dynamic if we are also open.