Fewer illegal imports of medicinal products


Imports of medicinal products to Switzerland have decreased - and with them illegal imports. This was revealed by this year's edition of the international action week "PANGEA". Swissmedic and the Swiss customs authorities believe this positive development is the result of the considerable amount of preventive efforts over recent years.

Systematic checks of shipments of medicinal products are carried out every year, within the framework of the "PANGEA" action week. This year, it took place from 18 to 25 June, and involved 100 countries. The authorities at airports and mail sorting centres inspected a worldwide total of 500,000 suspicious packages. They seized 58,000 of them and closed almost 10,000 illegal websites. House searches and arrests also took place.

Positive development

For Switzerland, the projections from these checks were positive. While 100,000 shipments were imported in 2010, only around 40,000 shipments of medicinal products per year are now being sent to Switzerland, of which half are illegal.
This decrease shows that more and more Swiss citizens are becoming aware that taking medicinal products ordered on the Internet constitutes a major risk. In many cases, the goods ordered do not correspond to the active pharmaceutical ingredient or to the correct dosage that is stated. This can even be fatal.

Caught in the net

This year, the customs authorities and Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, seized around 90 shipments with a high potential risk to health within the framework of "PANGEA VI". Swissmedic also ordered the closure of four Swiss Internet sites that traded medicinal products illegally. In addition, over 130 offers were removed from auction platforms.
The Swiss authorities carried out the checks in conjunction with colleagues from the Principality of Liechtenstein. They examined around 650 suspicious packages, and just under half of them were illegal. The authorities informed the recipients of those shipments that were subsequently released, by means of a circular, of the risks related to obtaining medicinal products from the Internet. Most of the illegal medicinal products came from India and China. The transit points used to repackage the goods and to conceal the real origin were the Netherlands, England - and for the first time a duty-free warehouse in Singapore.

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