Rapid access to innovative therapies and medical services is of central importance for the quality of healthcare provision. This ensures that patients are able to benefit from progress in medicine. For instance, major progress has been made with cancer therapies over the past ten years. There has been a significant improvement in treatment outcomes with some cancers, and therapeutic progress is even being made with certain cancers that have already developed metastases.
Further effort needed
Swiss patients generally gain rapid access to medical progress. This was confirmed not least in the Comparator Report on Patient Access to Cancer Medicines in Europe, published by the renowned Karolinska Institute in Sweden in 2016.
In recent years, however, delays have arisen both in the authorisation of new medicinal products and in their being accorded reimbursable status by providers of basic health insurance. In particular, Switzerland has fallen behind the European Union in terms of access to highly innovative medicines for life-threatening diseases. In some instances, important cancer therapies that are covered by the social health insurance systems in many EU countries were not included in the Swiss List of pharmaceutical specialities (LS) covered by basic health insurance until more than a year after they became available elsewhere. Developments of this kind are problematic in that they lead to two-tier healthcare precisely with respect to highly innovative medicines for patients who are dependent on the solidarity of the health insurance system.
Further efforts therefore need to be made to make the associated processes internationally competitive once more. The pharmaceutical industry is a champion of rapid and equal access to new medicines for all patients.
A large part of the population is in favour of rapid access to innovation. A poll carried out under the auspices of the gfs Gesundheitsmonitor information system in 2018 showed that a constant majority of over 80 percent of the adults surveyed are not willing to accept restricted access to new medicines or new forms of treatment. Just 19 percent of the population would be willing to restrict access to new medicinal products. Depending on the savings achieved, around 54 percent of the population would be willing to accept limitations on the freedom of therapy in order to lower costs in the health system, and about half and one third respectively would be prepared to relinquish the freedom to choose a hospital or doctor.