A substantial quantity of illegally imported drugs from India have been discovered in Switzerland, including medicines linked to the COVID-19 epidemic, such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, as well as sexual stimulants, according to a Swiss government agency.
The Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Drugs (Swissmedic) revealed in its annual report that it and customs authorities confiscated 9,421 parcels containing unlawfully imported pharmaceutical products in 2021, up from 6,733 such packages in 2020.
The majority of the products seized were potency preparations and accounted for around 77 per cent of the confiscated packages. Other preparations secured included prescription-only medicines, such as hormones and anti-inflammatories (17 per cent) or sleeping tablets and tranquillisers (5 per cent).
Around 150 of the packages that were seized were connected with the COVID-19 pandemic. These contained prohibited quantities of prescription-only medicinal products, including anti-parasitics containing ivermectin, medicinal products containing hydroxychloroquine or antibiotics from India.
Swissmedic said Poland has overtaken the countries of Asia to become the first European country to top the country-of-origin rankings.
However, the contents of the packages of potency preparations from Poland that were seized were all erectile stimulants manufactured in India. Swissmedic suspects that new illegal distribution channels have been set up after the authorities successfully shut down the transit route via Singapore in October 2020 as part of an internationally coordinated operation.
India directly accounted for 12 per cent of total seized packages, down from 20 per cent in 2022 and from 43 per cent in 2019.
“Half of the illegally sold preparations do not contain what they claim to contain! Taking medicinal products that have been ordered without a prescription or with a sham online prescription is dangerous to health,” Swissmedic said.