Newly developed technologies and inventions are better protected in Switzerland than in any other country: one of the many reasons behind the global success of the Swiss pharmaceutical industry.

Protection of intellectual property is highly developed in Switzerland, encouraging companies to take a long-term approach to research and innovation. This powerful legal framework has helped the Swiss pharmaceutical industry become a world leader.

The sector ranges from innovative start-ups to major corporations such as Novartis and Roche. The latter, based in Basel, are Swiss-based multinationals attracting a wide range of managerial and professional staff from other countries. The Swiss industry has production facilities and research establishments on several continents.

The pharmaceutical sector is closely linked to the chemical industry, which focuses on dye-stuffs, perfume essences and food flavourings. Together, these industries export about 85% of output, and are one of Switzerland’s main foreign-exchange earners.

Swiss innovations

  • Swiss firsts: organ transplants, cortisone, antihistamines, LSD

Switzerland: international organisations and associations

  • Switzerland is the headquarters of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA –, which represents the research-based pharmaceutical industry, including the biotechnology and vaccine sectors.
  • As home to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO –, Switzerland boasts a unique concentration of specialist expertise.
  • scienceindustries ( is a Swiss business association for the pharmaceutical, chemical and biotech industries, with more than 250 companies as members.


  • Two of the world’s five largest pharmaceutical companies – Novartis and Roche – were founded in Basel and also have their headquarters here. Other companies based in the region include Lonza and Syngenta.
  • The life sciences cluster centered around Basel includes both multinationals and large companies as well as numerous small and medium-sized companies. Other important clusters are located in Ticino and Valais.


  • Geneva is home to two of the world’s top-three flavour and fragrance companies: Firmenich and Givaudan .

Venues and visits

  • Venues for site visits include the Novartis Campus in Basel. Specialist guides lead tours of the multinational’s world headquarters with its high-tech research laboratories: an ultra-modern hub of international encounter and exchange.
  • Trade visits to Roche in Basel and/or Kaiseraugst (12-20 persons): Explore the world’s fifth largest pharmaceutical company through a trade visit as part of a small group. Only suitable for doctors and pharmacists, specialists, universities and student groups engaged in the field of Life Sciences
  • Basel Life Science + Business guided tour: A guided tour to learn about plant-based agents, synthetic dyes and university research in Basel. Explore Basel, the centre of the pharmaceutical and chemical industry
  • City guided tour: «Life Sciences» in Old Basel: For centuries Basel has been a centre for work on combatting disease, restoring people to good health or extending people’s lives. In addition to an insight into the Middle Ages, on this guided tour you will learn how the leading scientists of the Renaissance in Basel laid the groundwork for the city to eventually become the Life Sciences Metropolis.
  • Pharmaceutical History Museum Basel: A place of interest not only for specialists but laypersons as well. A comprehensive collection of old medicines as well as a dispensary, laboratory utensils, ceramic items, instruments, books, arts and crafts. A place of interest not only for specialists but laypersons as well.
  • World leaders in a variety of related fields are available to conference organisers as speakers and to share insights into a rapidly changing industry.


Factsheet Switzerland Global Enterprise