Swiss Illegal imports 2022: many confiscated shipments contained erectile stimulants



Bern, 10.02.2023 


At the request of Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) seized 6,793 shipments of illegally imported therapeutic products during 2022. This is more than a quarter fewer than in 2021 and around the same number as in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most frequent illegal imports of medicinal products continue to be erectile stimulants, followed by sleeping tablets and tranquillisers, hormones (incl. melatonin), cold remedies and laxatives. Illegal medicinal products often contain either no active substances or else wrongly declared active substances, and may contain harmful additives. Anyone buying medicinal products from a questionable source is putting their own health at risk and supporting criminal suppliers. Prescription-only medicines can be used safely only if patients obtain expert advice in person: Swissmedic urges people to be particularly wary of online shops that offer prescription-only medicines without a prescription.

The simplified procedure definitively introduced in 2019 was applied to more than 90 % (6263 of 6793) of illegal medicinal product shipments secured, and the medicinal products concerned were destroyed.

Illegal medicinal products from the Internet
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Swissmedic also undertook ordinary administrative proceedings in 214 cases. These included 78 cases of repeated orders made by individuals following a simplified procedure. Swissmedic’s Penal division dealt with 34 criminal administrative proceedings for illegal import of medicinal products and passed a further 75 cases involving narcotics and other medicinal products (“mixed packages”) to the competent cantonal public prosecutors. The Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) itself initiated criminal proceedings in 22 cases and filed complaints regarding illegal imports of narcotics with the competent cantonal authorities 185 times.

Medicinal products from questionable sources: hands off!

Anyone who uses medicinal products obtained through uncontrolled internet channels or via social media is running a major health risk. Such products are almost always supplied without a box or medicinal product information (package leaflet), may be incorrectly dosed or may contain undeclared harmful ingredients. The presumed cost savings are therefore illusory. Medical professionals should always assess whether prescription medicines are required and how long they should be taken for.