Swiss authorities seize medicines


In the course of one week, Swissmedic and the customs authorities have removed 100 packages containing dangerous medicinal products from circulation within the framework of the internationally co-ordinated action week "PANGEA V". The authorities also ordered the closure of 13 Swiss websites distributing illegal medicines.

The mail order trade in medicines and their import are strictly regulated in Switzerland, and justifiably so. Medicines obtained from dubious sources constitute a health risk and can even lead to death. Every year, the internationally co-ordinated action week "PANGEA" raises consumers' awareness concerning the dangers of ordering medicines from the Internet. The fifth edition, Pangea V, took place from 25 September to 2 October, including in Switzerland. This year, a total of 100 countries took part. "Pangea V" was co-ordinated by Interpol and the World Customs Organization.

Caught in the net
The authorities from the participating countries investigated more than 133'000 suspicious packages at airports and at mail sorting centres worldwide, seized nearly 7'000 of them and closed 18'000 illegal websites. House searches were carried out and arrests were made.
The Swiss authorities carried out the controls with colleagues from the Principality of Liechtenstein.
They investigated around 750 suspicious packages, and over half of them provide to be illegal. The medicinal products seized were, for the most part, erectile stimulants, slimming products, psychotropic drugs and antibiotics.

Risks related to purchasing medicines over the Internet

Swissmedic estimates that around 50,000 illegal shipments of medicines arrive in Switzerland every year. This is linked to major risks; there is no guarantee that the goods ordered actually contain the stated active pharmaceutical ingredients or the corresponding dosage. Impurities are also possible. With regard to antibiotics, the danger exists not only for the consumers but also for the entire population, since resistances can develop as a result of unsupervised treatment with them.