Health risks of designer drugs: further psychoactive substances prohibited

Ten individual substances and one substance group added to the Narcotics List

Media release

Bern, 09 October 2023

Anyone who takes designer drugs doesn’t know their health risks. From 9 October 2023, the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) is prohibiting a further ten individual substances and one substance group to tackle the misuse of new synthetic substances as narcotics. The amendment of the relevant ordinance will make these psychoactive substances equivalent to narcotics. Their manufacture, trade and use will be illegal and subject to penalties under the Narcotics Act.

New psychoactive substances are synthetic substances with narcotic-like effects. They are marketed as intoxicants and also called designer drugs. Consumption of such designer drugs is a health risk. It is not known how they act in conjunction with other substances, whether they are addictive – and if so, how addictive they are – or how toxic they are when taken repeatedly. Due to their structural similarity to substances that are already controlled, an effect similar to narcotics with significant potential for addiction or abuse can be assumed.

Their inclusion in the lists of controlled substances is an effective means of tackling the spread of new designer drugs on the black market and, as a result, the consumption of these products which are potentially damaging to health. The Narcotics Lists Ordinance has been updated at the request of Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, and has been agreed at international level. This should prevent Switzerland becoming a transshipment centre for the trade in designer drugs. Since December 2011, 287 individual substances and 15 groups (derivatives) have been incorporated into List E (Annex 6) of the Narcotics Lists Ordinance.

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