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Cabinet seeks to crack down on fake drugs

The Medicrime Convention is the first international treaty aimed at combating the illegal trade in medical products Keystone

The Swiss government wants to put safety labels on packages of medical products in an effort to boost its fight against counterfeit drugs.

The interior ministry says a tag guaranteeing product authenticity – coupled with more national and international information sharing plus covert criminal investigations – will help safeguard public health. The proposal also seeks to limit drug imports private individuals.

“Counterfeit products and illegally traded drugs or medical products can be a serious health hazard,” said the ministry in a statement on Wednesday.

The legal amendment, still to be discussed by parliament, is in line with the Medicrime ConventionExternal link of the Council of Europe, signed by Switzerland in 2011.

The growing international trade in counterfeit medication, often over the internet, has also affected Switzerland. According to the interior ministry, an estimated 20,000 shipments of fake drugs arrive in the country every year.

Switzerland has recently adapted its medication legislation, but further amendments are needed to comply with the European convention.

The Geneva-based World Health Organization says counterfeit drugs account for just 1% of the market in industrialised countries, but they are a serious health hazard in some countries in southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR