19th January 2011

Five complementary therapies are once again available to Swiss people via their health system, with all becoming reimbursable under Swiss health insurance.

They are: homeopathy, herbalism, Traditional Chinese medicine, ‘holistic medicine’ (an integrated approach) and neural therapy. They all become available again in 2012, however, the medicines must prove their ‘efficacy, cost effectiveness and suitability by 2017.

These therapies were available until 2005, when they were removed. However, a massive petition led to a vote in 2009, in which two thirds of Swiss people backed the therapies, leading to their reinstatement.

For the new trial, providers of homeopathy, holistic, herbal and neural therapies and traditional Chinese medicine will have to evaluate their effectiveness. The findings will then go before a recognised international institute – still to be determined – that will provide an independent scientific assessment. The UK’s NICE and the US NIH are both being considered.

The re-evaluation will not include new trials, rather an examination of existing data.