Illegal pharmaceuticals: Investigators from the European therapeutic products agencies meet in Switzerland

Bern, 8 September 2017

Cross-border cooperation is crucial for efficiently combating the manufacture of and trading in illegal pharmaceuticals. Some 80 experts from authorities in 26 countries attended a meeting of the Working Group of Enforcement Officers (WGEO) in Montreux. The two-day meeting was organised by Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products.


The principal aim of the event was for the representatives of therapeutic products agencies and other authorities to exchange information about – and practical experience of – the fight against illegal pharmaceuticals. An important aspect was the trade in illegal medicines in the internet and the question of what means and instruments the authorities can use to combat illegal websites and sales channels. Another area discussed was the worrying trend towards counterfeiting even in the legal markets of various EU countries. For the first time, a speaker from the domain of social media took part in the meeting. Together with her, the attendees discussed and highlighted ways in which illegal trading through social platforms could be combated in future. Further information was provided by a representative of the WHO, who reported on efforts to stem trading in illegal pharmaceuticals which are being initiated and coordinated worldwide.

The WGEO is a working group of the European therapeutic products authorities (Heads of Medicines Agencies – HMA). Since 2004, it has met twice a year in the home country of the EU presidency. Employees of Swissmedic have been active in this working group since the outset, and play an active role in the cooperation. Switzerland is standing in for Estonia as the host country, and experts from Swissmedic, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration (FCA) and the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) were present. The WGEO's mandate is to strengthen cooperation and the exchange of information between the European authorities in efforts to combat pharmaceutical crime.