Monkeypox medication not authorised in Switzerland

An electron microscope image of monkeypox Cdc

The antiviral drug tecovirimat and the latest generation smallpox vaccine – which both help against monkeypox and are authorised in the European Union – are not available in Switzerland, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper has reported.

This content was published on May 22, 2022 - 14:35
NZZ am Sonntag/SonntagsBlick/WHO/SWI/ilj

The news comes after Switzerland confirmed its first case of monkeypox, in canton Bern, on Saturday evening.

Tecovirimat is usually administered in severe cases. But as is highlighted in the NZZ am SonntagExternal link article – and on the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)’s special monkeypox infopageExternal link – this treatment is not currently authorised in Switzerland.

Also not authorised is the third-generation smallpox vaccine, which provides good protection against monkeypox. There is no specific vaccine against monkeypox.

The Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products Swissmedic told the NZZ am Sonntag that it had not received any applications for this vaccine in recent years. Smallpox, which is closely related to monkeypox, was considered eradicated, which is why pharma firms had not made applications, it said.

More details have emerged over the first case. According to SonntagsBlickExternal link, the person concerned is a middle-aged man who has light symptoms and is in isolation at home.

Officials: risk 'low'

 “We currently assess the risk as low, but epidemiological data is still limited," the FOPH’s Céline Gardiol told Swiss public television SRF on SundayExternal link. "However, it can be assumed that more cases could occur in our country, as is the case in other countries," said the head of the vaccine recommendations and control measures section.

The monkeypox virus is considered to be moderately transmissible to humans and the disease is usually mild. It is important that people with symptoms – these include fever, headache and a rash that develops pustules - see a doctor quickly, said Gardiol.

The Swiss health authorities are currently observing the situation and are in contact with international health authorities and experts, added FOPH deputy director Linda Nartey.

"At the moment we have no evidence that we are facing a new pandemic," said Nartey on SRF. "But the situation - as being done already - needs to be monitored."

WHO concerns

Meanwhile, the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO), said late Saturday evening that there had been 92 laboratory confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases in 12 WHO member countries which are not endemic for the monkeypox virus. The virus is normally found in parts of West and Central Africa.

The WHO warned that it expected more cases of monkeypox as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries.

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