Pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland

One of the many buildings of Novartis in Basel.
The headquarters of Roche Diagnostics in Rotkreuz, Switzerland.
The headquarters of Actelion in Allschwil.

The pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland directly and indirectly employs about 135,000 people.[1] It contributes to 5.7% of the gross domestic product of Switzerland and contributes to 30% of the country's exports.[1]

Switzerland is home to many pharmaceutical companies, including very large groups, such as Novartis and Hoffmann-La Roche. In 2013, 41 life science companies had their international headquarters (and 29 more their regional headquarters) in Switzerland.[2][3]



Basel is home to Novartis (Sandoz), Hoffmann-La Roche, Basilea Pharmaceutica, Actelion and Straumann. In 2013, Novartis and Hoffmann-La Roche were respectively the second and third world biggest pharmaceutical companies (preceded by Pfizer and followed by Merck & Co. and Sanofi).[4]

Switzerland is also home to Merck Serono (Serono), Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Debiopharm, Nycomed, Janssen-Cilag, Galderma, Naari, Weleda, Octapharma and Frewitt.

What is more, many non-domestic companies have their regional headquarters in Switzerland, for instance: Biogen Idec, Amgen, Celgene, Medtronic and Onyx Pharmaceuticals.[2]

See also: Alliance Boots, Fenjal.

Life sciences

70% of the investments in life sciences in Europe are made in the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland.[2][3]

In addition to pharmaceutical companies (65 companies), Switzerland is home to many companies in the fields of biotechnology (338 companies) or medical devices and technology (341 companies).[2][3] According to KPMG, there are 120 life science companies in Basel, 132 in Zürich and 92 in the Lemanic region.[2][3]

In 2013, 41 life science companies had their international headquarters (and 29 more their regional headquarters) in Switzerland.[2][3]

In Switzerland, there are about 51,000 workers in the field of medical technologies (1,600 companies) and 13,700 on the field of biotechnologies.[5]


Basel region

According to Le Temps, there are about 900 pharmaceutical and medtech companies (50,000 workers) in the region of Basel.[5] The region of Zurich, mainly active in medical technologies employs 21,000 workers.[5]

Lemanic region

The former headquarters of Merck Serono in Geneva, which now hosts the Campus Biotech.
See also: Health Valley

According to L'Hebdo, there are 750 biotech and medtech companies (20,000 employees) in the Lemanic region.[6] Among them, 450 companies develop and/or produce drugs.[6] In addition to that, there are 500 laboratories from universities and university hospitals (in the Lemanic region).[6]



Notes and references

  1. 1 2 Stephan Vaterlaus, Stephan Suter and Barbara Fischer, "The Importance of the Pharmaceutical Industry for Switzerland", A study undertaken on behalf of Interpharma, September 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Site Selection for Life Sciences Companies, European Life Sciences Cluster 2013 Report, KPMG (page visited on 4 November 2013).
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 (French) Willy Boder, "La Suisse compétitive dans les sciences de la vie", Le Temps, Tuesday 5 November 2013, p. 15.
  4. 1 2 3 4 (French) Willy Boder, "Le grand chambardement de la pharma", Le Temps, Monday 7 July 2014, page 17.
  5. 1 2 3 (French) Dejan Nikolic, "Les sciences de la vie recrutent à Genève grâce à des ex-employés de Merck Serono", Le Temps, Tuesday 21 April 2015, page 13.
  6. 1 2 3 (French) Health Valley, L'Hebdo, 2010.


See also

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