Free choice of medical treatment

Swiss Parliament has approved two new exceptions to the effects of a patent, namely:


  • the prescription of medicines by medical personnel in individual cases;
  • the direct preparation of individual medicines in pharmacies.


Both these new exceptions to the effects of a patent, together with further revisions to the Patents Act and the revision of the Therapeutic Products Act, will come into force on 1 January 2019.


At the beginning of 2010, the European Patent Office’s Enlarged Board of Appeal changed its case law allowing patents to have broader rights in future to additional medical indications. The Federal Supreme Court maintained that the freedom of physicians to prescribe or dispense generic medicines may be restricted under this new case law.


To resolve the issue, Swiss Parliament decided on 18 March 2016:

  • to exclude the prescription or use of medicines that relate to an individual person from the effects of a patent. This exception does not include non-specific series’ of treatments undertaken by medical personnel.
  • to authorise pharmacies to prepare ready-made medicines containing prepared active ingredients and additives or medicinal substances for individual patients on the basis of medical treatment advised by a physician. This exception does not include the preparation of medication for keeping in stock, contract manufacturing or the manufacture of active ingredients.