Risks, legal basis and tips regarding medicinal products on the Internet
Importing and exporting medicinal products by individuals
Questions & answers
Private individuals (including tourists) may import a month's supply of medicines into Switzerland for their own use but not for third parties. However, if a medicine is classified as a narcotic (see Link:), it may only be imported or exported by travellers who are ill (see Link:).
Regarding doping, special directives apply (see also www.antidoping.ch and the question "I'd like to import muscle-building products. What must I bear in mind?).
Swissmedic strongly advises against any purchasing medicines online from unreliable sources.
For more information, click here.
You are permitted to import a maximum of 3000mg of Sildenafil OR 200 mg of Tadalafil OR 600 mg of Vardenafil for your personal use. This dosage corresponds to the maximum authorised supply for one month.
The active pharmaceutical ingredients Sildenafil, Tadalafil and Vardenafil belong to the same class of active pharmaceutical ingredients (PDE5 blockers) and may not be combined.
It depends whether Switzerland considers the products to be dietary supplements or medicinal products. Annex 1 of the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) Ordinance on Dietary Supplements (DietSO) (which can be found on the internet at https://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classified-compilation/20143410/index.html#app1ahref0 – English not available) specifies what substances and in what amounts are permitted in Switzerland. By the way, a dietary supplement can also be classified as a medicinal product if it is advertised as a product for healing a condition, e.g. relieving joint pain, lowering blood glucose levels or losing weight. If a product is classified as a medicinal product, a maximum of one month's supply may be imported.
Swissmedic can provide you with information on medicines. For dietary supplements, you need to address the cantonal authorities (see http://www.kantonschemiker.ch/). You need to specify the precise composition of the products and the purpose for which they are intended, so that the authorities can process your enquiry.
Medicinal products, particularly muscle-building products, can also contain doping substances. This applies if the substances contained in the relevant medicinal product are listed in the Sport Promotion Ordinance. Different rules to those on the import of medicinal products apply to the importing of doping substances. A zero-tolerance approach is normally taken. Further information on doping substances can be found on the website of Antidoping Switzerland.
An individual may import medicinal products for his or her own pets to the extent of one month's supply. Importing medicines for livestock is prohibited. By livestock is understood animals used to produce foodstuffs. This also includes horses, unless the identity document (passport) specifically states that the horse is a domestic animal.
The risks are health-related, financial and legal in nature. Medicines offered on the Internet are often substandard in terms of quality and effectiveness and pose a potential threat to your health. If their import is illegal, the goods will be confiscated and destroyed. You will also have to pay the administrative costs incurred. Repeated imports or any suspicion of trading in the products may result in criminal proceedings.
Swissmedic is not able to provide this information, since each country has its own legislation on the subject. For importing goods to foreign countries, please contact the relevant embassy.
There are two such forms, one based on the Schengen Agreement (Link) and the other issued by the UN (Link). However, the forms are only valid for medicines containing narcotics (e.g. sleeping medication, tranquillisers or medicines to treat severe pain). For security reasons, for travel outside the Schengen area you should ask the relevant embassy whether it is permitted to import the medicine into the country in question.
The customs authorities have withheld your consignment because they are not sure whether the import is legal. They have sent Swissmedic a "Notification regarding a suspicious dispatch". You have received a copy of this notification. Swissmedic will now process the case. If everything is in order, your consignment will be released for import. If the authorities decide that your consignment cannot be released, you will receive a letter from Swissmedic explaining the situation. You may issue a statement in response to this "Preliminary decision". You will subsequently receive a formal decision with legal instructions stating what will happen to the blocked goods. If you do not agree with this decision, you have the right to have the case judged by the Federal Administrative Court.
If the withheld medicinal products pose a risk to health or originate from an illegal source, they will be destroyed. Otherwise, they may be returned to the sender. In any case, you will have to pay the administrative costs (at least CHF 300).
If an illegal activity involves a connection with Switzerland, Swissmedic is entitled to intervene. If this is not the case, Swissmedic informs the competent foreign authorities.
In addition, Swissmedic informs the public at regular intervals with publications and press releases.
No. You need an operating permit from Switzerland to export medicines, which is issued to pharmaceutical companies. It makes no difference whether or not the medicines must be paid for by the recipient.
Last modification 08.10.2018