Boosting Switzerland as a centre of biomedical research and technology

Switzerland has a very good international position in terms of biomedical research and innovation. The federal government has adopted a master plan to boost this country’s strength in biomedical research and technology long term.

A lasting boost through targeted, coordinated measures

As part of efforts to further strengthen Switzerland’s standing, in 2013 the Federal Council approved a master plan designed to boost Switzerland as a centre of biomedical research and technology. The master plan involves the implementation between 2013 and 2020 of a total of 23 sector-specific measures designed to maintain and develop as good a framework as possible for biomedical research and technology. At the same time it is intended to enable people in Switzerland to physically benefit from the achievements of biomedicine and give them affordable access to the latest biomedical products.
The master plan impacts the entire chain, from research and development, clinical research, market entry for biomedical products, and pricing and reimbursement by social security, all the way to the availability of these products in day-to-day healthcare.

23 measures with different bodies responsible

The master plan initially comprised 21 measures covering education/training and continuing education, market entry and oversight, reimbursement by social security, orphan (rare) diseases and intellectual property (a list of measures can be found in the annex to the report). In 2016 two additional measures covering security of supply and medical devices were added. Various departments of the FOPH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and Swissmedic, the Swiss agency for the authorisation and supervision of therapeutic products, are responsible for the measures.

Interim appraisal

At the end of 2018 the Federal Council did an interim appraisal of the master plan in the form of a review (see below under Documents). Overall, five years after approval of the master plan, implementation of the 23 measures is well on track. The goals defined for two thirds of the measures have been achieved in full or at least in part, and substantial progress has been made on most of the others. The only measure where the defined goal has not been reached is assuring coverage of the costs of treatment and care in academically initiated clinical trials.  
The master plan has brought improvements not only within the individual themes, but also on an overarching level: viewing the system as a whole has proved to be extremely helpful in terms of coordinating the various areas. The master plan has helped create better understanding across of-fice and departmental boundaries. It has also proven its worth as a political instrument. The master plan has garnered considerable recognition internationally in the context of competition between centres of biomedicine, and has been discussed with foreign delegations on a number of visits.

Federal Council decides to renew master plan

Given the importance of biomedical research and the industry for the Swiss economy and healthcare system, the Federal Council has resolved to continue with the master plan, and has commissioned the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) to draft a new plan for 2020 to 2025. The list of measures to be implemented will be presented in 2020, and can be modified on an ongoing basis to reflect technological developments and the concerns of the stakeholders involved. The areas of focus include boosting clinical research, allowing affordable access to new biomedical products, and digital transformation.

The FDHA will work on the implementation of the 2020-25 master plan in tandem with the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) and the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). There are also plans for a regular exchange of information with representatives of the various stakeholders.

Last modification 02.07.2019

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