Contributed By Walder Wyss Ltd
Any person who wilfully contravenes the regulations on the advertising of medicines is liable to a term of detention or to a fine not exceeding CHF50,000. If the person concerned acts in a professional capacity, the penalty is a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding CHF100,000. If the person concerned acts through negligence, the penalty is a fine not exceeding CHF10,000. Attempts and aiding and abetting are also offences. The right to prosecute contraventions and execute the penalties for contraventions are subject to a time limit of five years. In particularly minor cases, prosecution and sentencing may be waived (Article 87 paragraph 1 lit. b and paragraph 2-6 HMG).
In addition, Swissmedic may take all administrative measures necessary to enforce the HMG. In particular, it may raise objections and set an appropriate time period for restoring the state of law, suspend or revoke licences and marketing authorisations and close down establishments. Furthermore, Swissmedic may also seize, hold in official storage or destroy medicines that endanger health or that do not conform to the regulations of the HMG as well as prohibit the distribution, dispensing, import, export and foreign trade from Switzerland of medicines, order their immediate recall from the market, or order the publication of recommendations of conduct to prevent damage. Finally, it may seize, hold in official storage, destroy or prohibit the use of illegal advertising media and publish the prohibition at the expense of the responsible parties as well as temporarily or permanently prohibit the advertising of a specific medicine in the event of serious or repeated infringements of the provisions of the HMG, and publish the prohibition at the expense of the responsible parties (Article 66 para 1 and 2 HMG).
In addition, Swissmedic may require a marketing authorisation-holder who seriously or repeatedly infringes the provisions governing the advertising of medicines to submit to Swissmedic, for a reasonable period of time, all drafts of the planned advertising in the form specified by Swissmedic for review and approval prior to its appearance (Article 23 AWV).
Furthermore, the bribery offences in criminal law (Article 322ter et seqq. StGB) apply as well (see 8.1 General Anti-bribery Rules above).