The Drug Unit (DU) is in charge of the Specialities List (SL), published every year on 15 April as a book. Addenda are published in the Bulletin of the Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH) as per 1st July, 1st October and 1st January . The SL is also available on CD-ROM and is on the Internet (see http://www.bag.admin.ch/kv/gesetze/sl/e/index.htm ).
The SL is a positive list, i.e. all the drugs listed are paid for by Swiss health insurers within the limits of compulsory basic health insurance. The list contains about 2'500 drugs, which corresponds to about 30% of all the drugs registered in Switzerland by the Intercantonal Office for the Control of Medicaments (IOCM).
The positive list has a long tradition in Switzerland, as it was first published in 1955.
Requests for inclusion in this list are submitted to the SFOPH by pharmaceutical firms on a voluntary basis. For the assessment of the submitted drugs, the SFOPH relies on the support of the Federal Drug Commission (FDC), which operates according to the militia principle.
In order to be admitted on the SL, a drug must meet the triple condition of effectiveness, appropriateness and efficiency (EAE). SFOPH especially stresses the criterion of efficiency which takes into consideration the price paid in 3 foreign countries (Germany, Denmark, Holland) as well as a cross reference. Cross reference means that the price is compared to the price of a drug of the same therapy group already on the SL - i.e. drugs which are already covered by basic health insurance - on the basis of day care costs or cure costs. To be put on the SL the drugs must fullfill the two criterions.
Since 1999 drugs may be registered on special application by "fast track" with the IOCM; these cases will also be treated fast by the SFOPH.