Blümel: Customs Administration has already withdrawn over 5,000 purported coronavirus medications from circulation Warning against self-treatment with chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine

Online trade in the illegal medications chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine is currently booming. These two medicines, currently licensed to treat malaria and certain autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, are purported to help against Covid-19. The Federal Office for Safety in Health Care warns against unsupervised taking of these drugs.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, these prescription-only medicines have been regularly seized by customs in postal consignments. In 2020, 30 consignments containing a total of 3,151 tablets of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were withdrawn from circulation. These prescription-only medications, which are not permitted to be ordered online, are now seeing a sharp upward trend. In January 2021 alone, eight consignments were impounded containing over 2,000 more tablets on just one day.

The Ministry of Finance warns against the risks when placing illegal online orders of medicines via online pharmacies and, for the sake of protecting people's health, strongly recommends that prescription-only drugs be bought only from local pharmacies. Moreover, the recipients of deliveries intercepted by customs can be easily located, will lose the purchase price they have paid, and can expect to be prosecuted.

"Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen a sharp rise in the illegal purchase of medicines which are purported to help against coronavirus. In truth, however, the effects have not yet been researched, and taking such medications without a prescription and without medical supervision may be dangerous to health. Thus, through its work, the Customs Administration is also making a significant contribution to protecting the health of anxious citizens from unscrupulous profiteers," explains Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.

The Austrian Customs Administration will continue its ongoing targeted controls and, during the coronavirus pandemic, will continue to pay particular attention to purported coronavirus cures.