The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Illegal drug dealers abuse Swiss websites

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 1 November 2023

Illegal suppliers of medicines are abusing legal Swiss websites to sell their goods via the Internet. This has come to the attention of the Therapeutic Products Agency Swissmedic as part of an international campaign against counterfeit and illegally imported medicines.

Illegal drug dealers abuse Swiss websites
(KEYSTONE/Michael Buholzer)

Switzerland took part in Operation Pangea XVI, coordinated by Interpol, against illegal online trade in medicines. During the week-long operation, authorities in the 89 countries involved shut down 1,300 websites and seized $7 million worth of illegal and counterfeit medicines, Swissmedic said Tuesday.

The focus for Swissmedic was on the ordering options of the suppliers of such medicines. It was striking that illegal traders abused legal Swiss websites that had no relation to medicines. These could be websites of sports clubs, SMEs or even gaming groups.

The providers hacked these websites and added their own pages with sales opportunities for counterfeit medicines or doping substances. In this way, the criminals wanted to make it appear that they were official Swiss providers, Swissmedic wrote.

67 webmasters of sites hacked in this way were requested by the Therapeutic Products Institute to take corrective action. In addition, following an intervention by Swissmedic, foreign providers deleted more than 200 offers that are illegal in Switzerland.

As part of the international campaign week, Swiss authorities also checked around 900 items at the Zurich-Mülligen post office. 230 of these contained counterfeit and illegally imported medicines. More than half of these items came from India and Eastern European countries. 51 percent contained erectile stimulants and just under a quarter psychotropic drugs and narcotics.

©Keystone/SDA

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