The pharmaceutical industry is a pillar of the economy, contributing to an above-average degree to Switzerland’s prosperity. Accounting for a direct share of 5.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), it is one of the most important sectors of the private economy in Switzerland. Today, our country is one of the most important pharmaceutical research hubs in the world alongside the USA, and its reputation extends well beyond Europe. In 2017, the research-based pharmaceutical companies invested more than CHF 6.5 billion in research and development (R&D) in Switzerland, a figure that is almost twice the volume of the turnover that they achieve in Switzerland. Every franc transferred from the Swiss healthcare system to the pharmaceutical industry is reinvested almost twice over in Switzerland. Some 46,800 employees generate CHF 36 billion in value added every year. A total of 254,100 jobs depend on the success of the pharmaceutical industry.
Optimum framework conditions are and will remain essential for a successful and internationally competitive pharmaceutical hub. Yet the attractiveness of the location is under pressure from many quarters.
Reinforcing political stability and legal certainty
Political stability and legal certainty are major traditional strengths of Switzerland. In recent years, however, erosion has been observed that has also made itself felt in the corresponding international indices. Growing tension within the relationship with the EU, in particular, is leading to legal uncertainty. Switzerland needs to consolidate its bilateral relationship with the EU in the long term. The legal uncertainty is to a certain extent home-grown, and it is threatening from within the quality of Switzerland as a base for activities. Against the background of rising healthcare costs, calls to limit entrepreneurial freedom are bound to get louder. This is why it is all the more important for the industry to send the right signals regarding the environment, social affairs and company management in the future.
In addition to complying with the relevant national and international standards, the industry is aiming to take greater account of ecological, social and societal aspects in its corporate decision-making process. This includes making an active contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and working in partnership with other stakeholders, particularly those involved in health, diversity & inclusion and climate protection. The aim must be to achieve a transparent dialogue with society and the political community about the significance of the pharmaceutical industry for Switzerland and the necessary framework conditions for the future. One of the things needed to achieve this goal is an institutionalised advisory committee on the future of the pharmaceutical industry. This should consist of high-ranking representatives from the scientific community, the private economy and the authorities. The committee should advise the Federal Council on ways of anticipating future developments in this sector which is so important for Switzerland.