Cycles are a law of nature, something fundamental. They set the pace for the passage of time, the evolution and extinction of organisms, the orbiting of planets or the ebb and flow of the tides. Our life is embedded in cycles, the meticulously pulsing rhythm of nature. Soberly considered, our existence is not only significantly affected by the inevitable laws of nature, but also by technocratic cycles of human invention. Examples are economic cycles that go up and down and the annual financial reporting cycles that dictate when companies plan and develop innovations. Political processes move at their own speed too, following the pace of legislative periods. And of course, there is digitalisation. For decades this has followed Moore’s Law, which states that the storage capacity, and hence the performance, of microprocessors doubles every 18 months. The problem is that the corporate, political and digital cycles run at different speeds and over different frequencies. If they are not to be unduly held back, companies have to strike the ideal balance and hit the right note at all levels. While computer chips are developed at lightning speed, and programming is making software ever more complex and ever more efficient, the wheels of democratic politics turn at a stately speed in our part of the world. There are exceptions in northern and southern Europe, however, where e-health technologies are more widespread and making greater progress.


Bold objectives and calls for action are of little use in this situation; they tend to help more with self-motivation and can be seen as optimistically phrased metaphors for the rigorous commitment shown by Zur Rose at both political and social levels in Germany and Switzerland. But when it comes to the grind of politics, battle cries have no impact – small steps are the order of the day. Striving for an optimal framework, Zur Rose is in constant dialogue with those putting forward parliamentary initiatives supporting electronic medication plans, mail order pharmacy services to keep costs under control, the national launch of e-prescriptions, telepharmacy, and much more besides.


Consistent dedication to the supply of low-cost medications and innovative models of distribution in healthcare is steadily bearing fruit. Electronic prescriptions are becoming a reality in Germany in 2020. In anticipation of the project launch, Zur Rose has developed a new e-prescription technology specifically for the German market, further boosting the potential emerging in this market. Price fixing for prescription medicines is also facing stiff headwinds. In Switzerland, various parties are calling for mail-order sales of OTC medicines to be permitted in the near future, and many health insurers are launching innovative models of cover to keep costs under control.

With that, let us move away from the cyclical hamster wheel of annual results, political processes and technological development and turn on the following pages to the people whose well-being is ultimately at the heart of all our aims and endeavours: the patients. Behind every medication and every service from Zur Rose is a person who has their own, often difficult, story of pain and sickness to tell.


People’s lives do not always run in straight lines. Moments of happiness and success alternate with times of misfortune, fear, disappointment and illness. Often, simply making the transition from one stage of life to the next is difficult enough. The periods between childhood, adolescence, adulthood and retirement can trigger frictions with undesirable consequences. And in a world moving ever faster, there is a risk that the centrifugal forces at work can cause mental and spiritual fracturing. But the ups and downs over the course of a lifetime also offer the opportunity for reflection and change. As Lao Tzu said long ago, the only thing that does not change is change itself.

The most ominous change anyone can experience in life is serious illness. It brings pain, suffering and hope. Uncertainty over the outcome of the illness, mobility restrictions and loss of social contact only serve to emphasise the sense of being powerless. These break points in the human life cycle form the subject of the illustrations in this section. The finely etched, almost fragile drawings convey the overwhelming fear and fragility suffered in such situations, and give a sense of the way illness advances along a knife-edge, with the potential to tip over to the good or the bad side despite all the best treatments and medications. At the same time, they express courage and hope.