India-made stimulants, Covid-related drugs dominate illegal imports in Switzerland

The majority of the products seized were potency preparations and accounted for around 77% of the confiscated packages
Last Updated 21 February 2022, 15:49 IST

A large number of illegally imported drugs in Switzerland have been found to have been sent from India, including medicines connected with the Covid-19 pandemic including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as also erectile stimulants, a Swiss government agency said on Monday.

In its annual update, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic) said it along with customs authorities seized 9,421 packages containing illegally imported medicinal products during 2021, which was significantly higher than 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.

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(Published 21 February 2022, 15:49 IST)

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