Switzerland’s pharmaceutical industry soars

October 1, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Switzerland’s broad pharmaceutical expertise and its strong economy make it a good prospect for partnerships with Wisconsin companies.

The pharmaceutical industry is playing an ever-increasing role in Switzerland.

In 2020, Switzerland’s pharmaceutical exports totaled CHF 99 billion ($106.1 billion USD), more than 10 times as much as the CHF 8 billion ($8.6 billion USD) in exports in 1990, according to Discover Switzerland.

Switzerland is home to several giant pharmaceutical corporations, including Hoffmann-La Roche and Novartis, and demand for their products soared during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Switzerland’s combined chemical and pharmaceutical industry generated 6.3% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2020, second only to machinery. In terms of exports, though, chemicals and pharmaceuticals were No. 1, with more than CHF 116 billion ($124.4 billion USD) of their products sold abroad every year. That amounts to nearly 52% of total exports, Discover Switzerland said. In 2020, the sector employed about 74,000 people in Switzerland and more than 338,000 worldwide.

The first chemical and pharmaceutical plants in Switzerland were built in the 19th century to manufacture dyes for the textile industry. Later, they concentrated their efforts on high-value-added products, such as serums, vaccines, and drugs.

Switzerland’s chemical and pharmaceutical sector employs high manufacturing standards, with automation and mass production as the focal points. Opportunities for partnerships with U.S. companies could involve expanding production lines into Europe to allow for faster and less expensive transportation to European countries. Switzerland offers a tax credit that rewards companies for research and development investments.

Two future conferences may interest Wisconsin companies considering Swiss partnerships. The Festival of Biologics will be held Oct. 10-12, 2023, at Messe Basel for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and the IFAS trade fair for the health care market will be held Oct. 22-24, 2024, at Messe Zurich.

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