Friendly policies and a smart regulatory framework make Switzerland a great place to conduct clinical research.

Let’s face it.  Running a clinical trial is never easy.  Even the smallest study is a complex activity involving dozens of people and thousands of steps.  But there are ways to make the process easier, and one of them can be choosing to conduct a trial in Switzerland.

This small, densely-populated country of 7.8 million people (Swiss Government,http://www.ch.ch/schweiz/01063/01065/index.html?lang=en) is part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and has close ties to the European Union (EU).  However, as an autonomous country, Switzerland is governed by its own legislation and is not subject to the regulations – and frequent bureaucracy – of the EU.

Swiss law concerning clinical trials is based on international guidelines, such as Good Clinical Practice (GCP), the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH), and the Declaration of Helsinki.  Recognition of the validity of a Swiss study and its data is rarely an issue anywhere in the world.

Timelines for the approval of clinical trials are often shorter in Switzerland than in the EU, and the process is expected to accelerate further with the adoption of new Swiss legislation on human research in 2013.

Switzerland is home to some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, and the population has a mostly positive attitude toward the industry.  The country prioritizes education and healthcare, leading to strong political support for clinical research and a sizable pool of highly trained,  multicultural, multilingual physicians and clinical trial personnel.

The country’s well-established healthcare system provides an extensive infrastructure for clinical research with state-of-the-art facilities and patients who are generally knowledgeable about health and medicine.  Physicians are respected in Switzerland, and a good doctor/patient relationship has been linked to better medication adherence (Stavropoulou C. Patient Educ Couns. 2001;83:7-13) and, thus, higher quality clinical trial data.

Even logistics can be easier in Switzerland, with the country’s extremely efficient public transportation system delivering patients to appointments, drug supplies to clinics, and clinical trial monitors to sites.

So, while running a clinical trial will never be easy, Switzerland offers a number of advantages that can make the process a bit easier on patients, doctors, and sponsors.