«All human life has the same value from birth to death», Interview with Bernhard Rütsche, in: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of 8 August 2019

8. August 2019 – The NZZ (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) published an interview with Bernhard Rütsche on the value of human life and expensive modern treatments. Bernhard Rütsche is Professor of Public Law and Philosophy of Law at the University of Lucerne and also member of the National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics (NCE).

In general, the interview covered the challenges of new, highly effective but also very expensive treatments, such as genetic therapies for curing children from leukaemia costing up to 370’000 Swiss Francs per person. The new technologies confront society with crucial questions. Do the existing pricing mechanisms work or do they need reconsidering? Bernhard Rütsche emphasised the importance of a democratic process on the question of how much life extension shall be allowed to cost and described the current system in which the pricing criteria are defined by the Federal Council as unsatisfactory. He favoured criteria in a Federal act. Since acts of Parliament enjoy better democratic legitimacy, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) would also stand stronger grounds against pharma companies in pricing negotiations.

Further points of discussion were the so-called enhancement (the increase of efficiency and performance of humans) and compulsory licences (the possibility for the state to produce expensive medicines although protected by a patent). Rütsche also expressed his scepticism towards cost reimbursement on a case-to-case basis and pay-for-performance-models.

For the full interview, see here.