The Federal Customs Administration seized 3,203 shipments of illegally imported medicines in 2018 – triple the amount of the previous year.
These were followed by sleeping, diet and hair growth pills, the statement added.
Like in 2017, the majority of illegal shipments were from India (42%), followed by Eastern Europe (32%) and Asia (mainly Singapore, 17.5%).
The huge increase in seizures last year is partly due to more intensive collaboration between the different authorities, and a simplified working procedure between the Federal Customs Administration and Swissmedic.
Imports of Xanax, an anxiolytic drug, bought illegally on the Internet and via the darknet are worrying, the Swiss agency said. Its active ingredient alprazolam is a member of the benzodiazepine group and is subject to drug regulations. In recent years, it has been increasingly misused as a recreational drug and can be very addictive.
Last year, Swissmedic and customs seized 15 illegal shipments of Xanax from Cambodia, Hungary and other countries. According to information from the manufacturer of the original preparation, more than 95% of Xanax preparations sold illegally are counterfeit.
Swissmedic urges people to be particularly wary of buying counterfeit medicines online which may be poor quality and represent a health risk.