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Illegal medicine imports on the rise

Swiss customs seized 68 per cent more illegal medicines at border checks in 2009, prompting warnings that the public should not buy remedies over the internet.

The Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic) said custom checks had been stepped up at borders in response to a growing trend among the public to order medicine online.

The resulting checks uncovered 1,045 suspicious and potentially illegal imports last year. Proceedings have been launched against their producers.

The shipments came from 64 different countries, with the majority from India and western Europe. The products included erectile stimulants and slimming, hair growth and muscle building aids.

But it is just a fraction of the 50,000 illegal medicine imports estimated to reach Switzerland every year.

Bernard Scherz, head of the illegal medicines section at Swissmedic, said their advice was to not buy online. “We do not know what these medicines contain. People are taking risks – especially if they combine medicines. For example, combining Viagra with a heart remedy risks killing the man involved. Great care must be taken.”

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