New coronavirus: Swissmedic issues warning about illegal medicinal products from the Internet and false claims of curative properties

Officially licensed and controlled distribution channels are the only guarantee of safe, flawless-quality medicines


Dealers are exploiting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to sell illegal medicinal products to treat the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus through the internet and social media. At the same time, we are hearing of isolated cases of self-proclaimed healers or other confidence tricksters exploiting people’s fears and anxieties to attempt to sell various “miracle cures” for COVID-19 coronavirus disease. Swissmedic is therefore repeating its warnings about illegal medicinal products and claims of therapeutic properties in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone who makes use of such dishonest offerings is endangering not only themselves, but others as well. Officially licensed and controlled distribution channels are the only guarantee of safe, flawless-quality medicines.

Counterfeit or illegally distributed medicinal products jeopardise supplies of safe, essential preparations to patients and healthcare workers. At present, no medicinal products with scientifically proven benefits have been authorised in Switzerland or any other country specifically for the treatment of COVID-19. The same is true of a vaccine. Clinical trials are in progress in various countries to obtain reliable data on the efficacy and safety of new medicinal products or medicinal products that are already authorised for a different indication or to carry out first-time testing of vaccine candidates.

Do not purchase illegal COVID-19 medicines – beware of dubious treatments
Illegal dealers offer “fast, simple, no-prescription” access to authorised medicinal products which in many cases are only available to a limited extent. When prescription-only medicines are being specifically offered for sale and dispatch without the need for a prescription, it is safe to conclude they are illegal, counterfeit or of inferior quality.

Präparate mit dem Wirkstoff Chloroquin
Confiscated consignment of chloroquine preparations from abroad. Swissmedic strongly advises against buying such anti-malaria drugs on the Internet on your own initiative.

Products like these can be a major health risk if they contain no active substance, the wrong active substance or, in the worst case, toxic substances that should not be in a medicinal product at all.

Other suppliers are offering preparations that they claim can prevent infection. Self-proclaimed healers also claim to be able to successfully treat COVID-19 with various “miracle cures” or other treatments.

Such claims are both completely unfounded and illegal. Swiss, foreign and unknown sources are also offering complementary and herbal medicines on the back of dubious claims. As with conventional medicines, no medicines from this school of therapy have been approved for the treatment of COVID-19.

It is not always easy to distinguish illegal products from legal ones. Do not buy medicinal products advertised on the Internet as a cure for COVID-19 or to prevent it. By partnering with pharmaceutical companies and dispensing outlets, the Swiss authorities have so far been able to prevent counterfeit medicines infiltrating legal distribution chains. You should therefore always obtain your medicines from legal dispensing outlets inside Switzerland.

Information for patients

  • If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 – e.g. fever – or have other health-related questions, please contact a suitably qualified medical professional. Medical professionals are the only people able to assess your health status and to initiate and oversee appropriate treatment.
  • If you have any questions about the pandemic, please contact your doctor, another healthcare professional or the authorities.
  • Swissmedic advises against buying medicinal products on the Internet unless you do so from a Swiss mail-order pharmacy operating under a cantonal permit.