Generics – cheaper than original medicines

Generics are medicines based on a brand-name original. But there's always one big difference: the price. It's worth asking about a lower-priced generic.

Retention fee for medication

The Federal Council has increased the “higher retention fee” for certain medicines from 20% to 40% as of 1 January 2024. This increase is intended to encourage the use of generics and biosimilars, and to contain healthcare spending.

A higher retention fee is charged if the medicine you buy is more expensive than another medicine with the same active ingredient (such as a generic or biosimilar).

Generics explained in brief

New medicines are protected by a patent. This allows the manufacturer to recover the costs invested in research and development. Once patent protection expires, other manufacturers can start producing a generic version.

Generics are copies of synthetic medicines made from a chemical process. The active ingredient, dosage and form of administration, e.g. tablets or syrup, are identical – but the price is lower.

What are biosimilars?

Biosimilars are also cheaper. These are products which are modelled on medicines manufactured from biological sources. They are produced with the help of genetically modified living organisms, such as yeast, bacteria or animal cells. Biosimilars are highly similar to the original medicine, but never identical.

How to save on healthcare costs

Find out which medication CSS pays for and ask your doctor's practice or pharmacy for cheaper alternatives. This is also worth doing for medication whose costs are covered by CSS. That way, you keep your retention fee lower.

  • Compare the price of medicines with mymedi.
  • Find and order generics easily in the Well-App.

Good to know

It sometimes makes sense for medical reasons to take the brand-name original. In this case, your doctor will let you know.