PARTNERS – Working together to combat therapeutic product trafficking
It is forbidden in Switzerland to trade in, use and sell illegal therapeutic products, particularly on the Internet. Swissmedic works with Swiss customs, police and cantonal authorities to monitor the medicinal products market, initiating action or forwarding a report to the competent authority when necessary.
An efficient criminal prosecution instrument is needed in order to take effective action against the counterfeiting of medicinal products and medical devices. Alongside the cantonal public prosecutors and the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS), the Swissmedic Penal Division has primary responsibility for prosecuting and penalising violations relating to the manufacture, supply and trafficking of counterfeit therapeutic products.
The Swissmedic Penal Division carries out criminal investigations and penalises any violations within Swissmedic’s area of competence by issuing penalty orders and penalty rulings, as well as by representing Swissmedic in court as a prosecuting authority. Swissmedic is empowered to impose sanctions, such as house searches, seizures and demanding the production of documents. In transnational cases, which are common in the area of counterfeiting, Swissmedic works in close collaboration with foreign health authorities and prosecuting authorities.
In addition to its management, the Swissmedic Penal Division currently has seven investigators-in-charge – the majority of whom are qualified lawyers who have been admitted to the bar – who are responsible for the whole of Switzerland. From an organisational point of view, it constitutes one of the three divisions of Legal Affairs at Swissmedic, along with the Legal Division Medicines and Legal Division Medical Devices.
As the national single point of contact for medicinal products trafficking, Swissmedic partners with various international committees and working groups, with which it regularly shares information.