Living in Switzerland – Information and counselling online  

Chemist/Drugstore

The Chemist is often the first place to go if you are not feeling well. Chemists in Switzerland are highly-qualified health professionals and are competent to provide health advice. They will always advise you to see a doctor if there is any doubt.

You can buy many medications over the counter, but you need a doctor's prescription for a large majority (60%).  The law is very strict about what products can only be sold with a prescription. 

Please note!
Repeat prescriptions are valid 1 year only.  The chemist must follow the dosage mentioned on the prescription.  Remember to renew your annual prescriptions.

 

Checking and Assessing Prescriptions

Chemists always check the dosage mentioned on prescriptions.  They also check if the different types of medication you take are compatible (some products react badly with others).  It is important to tell the chemist if you take other types of medication, especially if you are treated by more than one doctor.

 

Who pays for your medicine?

Health and Accident Insurance covers approximately 80 - 90% of the cost of medication prescribed by a doctor.  The authorities publish a list of authorised products (List of Specialities).

Please note!
Only medication prescribed by a doctor a reimbursed by insurance companies.  Any drug bought over-the-counter is at your own cost.  
There are different ways to get your medicine reimbursed:
  • Pay for the medication at the chemists and keep the receipt and prescription; send these to the insurance company who will reimburse you (if you reach your annual medical franchise).
  • Many insurance companies provide a "Pharmacy Form" or an electronic card which you hand to the chemist.  Your insurer will then pay the chemist for your medication. (Attention: you may need to reimburse your insurer for any payments made if you do not reach your annual franchise)  

Request generic medication

Generic drugs are much cheaper than brand-name products.  They are authorised copies of drugs that exist already on the market and are safe and efficient.  Today, health authorities and insurance companies encourage doctors, chemists and patients to reduce the cost of healthcare by using generic medication.   

Please note!
Health Insurance companies require you to contribute 10% of the cost of generic medication.  If you use an original brand where a generic alternative exists, you are must contribute 20% of the cost.  Your doctor must confirm that there is no suitable generic treatment. 
 
Tip
It is a good idea to go regularly to the same chemist.  When your chemist gets to know you they can offer better advice, better assess your treatment and reduce administrative costs.

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