Say no to a radical people’s initiative

that risks to severely damage the

Swiss biomedical industry and healthcare system

On February 13, 2022, Swiss citizens will vote on a people’s initiative calling for a ban on clinical trials and animal testing.

Such trials are essential elements in the development of new and life-saving medicines. In addition, the initiative requests to prohibit the importation of medicines that have been developed using clinical trials, even tough such trials are an internationally established and binding regulatory requirement for the development of medicines for human use.

Acceptance of this initiative would therefore have a detrimental impact on patients in Switzerland and on all innovative Swiss companies developing such vital medicines. Patients in Switzerland would no longer be able to benefit from the most innovative and life-saving medicines and would be forced to travel abroad to obtain access to such treatments. The most innovative Swiss healthcare companies would be forced to leave Switzerland.

The Swiss Biotech Association thus strongly opposes this radical proposal as it would destroy one of the most successful biotech clusters in the world and severely affect the healthcare system and the patients in Switzerland.

The people’s initiative «Yes to a ban on animal and human experimentation – yes to research methods with impetus for safety and progress» aims to ban any experimental research on animals and humans in clinical trials, as well as the import of drugs that have been developed with the support of animal testing and clinical trials.

The adoption of this initiative would directly lead to the destruction of both academic and industry-based development of novel medicines in Switzerland.

University hospitals and research centers could no longer develop innovative medicines according to required international standards and highly innovative Swiss start-up companies would need to leave Switzerland immediately.

The highly successful Swiss biotech ecosystem comprises more than 1,000 start-ups and small to medium sized companies developing novel therapies addressing unmet medical needs globally.

This dynamic industry has created more than 50,000 jobs and is one of the leading research and development hubs for innovative medicines in the world. In collaboration with their research partners at universities, universities of applied sciences, hospitals, and multi-national pharma companies they enable Switzerland to be at the forefront of drug development and make Switzerland a respected partner in this field.

Also see our media release of January 17, 2022

The key arguments to say no to the radical initiative

Clinical trials and animal studies are legally required to obtain regulatory approvals for new human medicines in Switzerland and in all countries of the world

Banning Swiss-based research organizations and biotech/pharma companies from running clinical trials and animal studies in Switzerland would totally isolate Switzerland internationally, and force all research institutions to either abandon the development of innovative drugs or to move significant parts of their operations to any other country.

Switzerland would self-impose restrictions on the development of new and innovative medicines and their international approval process which would conflict with legally required approval processes enforced in all other countries.

Patients in Switzerland would be forced to travel abroad to access innovative treatments

As with currently approved human medicines, the approval of future medicines will need to undergo animal studies and clinical trials with patients following strict international regulations required by any country in the world. Thus, prohibiting the import of such new drugs would directly destroy the Swiss healthcare system and essentially prohibit patients in Switzerland to access new and innovative medicines.

Biomedical research and innovation are essential for a high-quality healthcare system

The proposed ban on medicine and research challenges the basic principle of a fair and inclusive healthcare system. Doctors would lose the ability to treat patients with some of the best-in class therapies. Patients with unresolved medical conditions, would lose their right to participate in clinical trials and therapeutic innovation.

Innovative biomedical startups create jobs and attract international talents to Switzerland

Switzerland is a leading global hub of biomedical innovation. More than 1,000 biotech small and medium sized companies employ a highly skilled workforce of 50,000 specialists and attract the best researchers from all over the world.

International investors are attracted by the high-quality research performed in the country and readily provide funding to Swiss biotech startups. In 2020 they invested CHF 3.4 billion into Swiss based companies as they recognize the value and great potential of these companies. This funding is available to the entire value-chain of startups, suppliers, hospitals, and universities.

Most funding and jobs would be lost with the ban on the corresponding R&D activities. A ban would cause the loss of a highly skilled talent pool and impoverish the Swiss academic landscape.

The Swiss biotech cluster is at the forefront of the development of novel therapies and Swiss biotech/pharma companies contribute to providing therapeutic solutions to the world

Swiss innovators are part of an integrated global effort to deliver biomedical therapeutic solutions to the world. This shared effort has grown organically over decades and has been essential in developing therapies alleviating pain and saving millions of lives. This leading role also enables Switzerland to provide a superb healthcare system and to have access to the latest innovation in medical treatments.

Animal welfare in clinical research – Swiss 3R Competence Centre

As with trials in humans, experimental approaches involving animals are regulated by the Swiss law to highest international standards. The Competence Centre promotes the use of the 3R (Replace, Reduce and Refine) principle to animal trials in order to address animal welfare. It requires efficiency, effectiveness and respect when conducting experiments, which is closely monitored by cantonal authorities. Based on one of the strictest systems to reduce and to replace animal experimentation, wherever possible and already nowadays, in-vitro and in-silico methods are used as alternatives to experiments with animal involvement.