MSD opens forensic laboratory at R&D site in Schachen

Lucerne, 23 March 2018 - Counterfeit drugs pose a serious threat to the health of patients and the number of pharmaceutical crime cases is increasing worldwide.1 MSD is also increasingly confronted with fraudulent cases. In line with MSD’s global and industry-leading patient safety program, one of the company's three forensic laboratories worldwide is now opening at the MSD research and development site in Schachen, Switzerland.

According to figures published by the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, pharmaceutical crime has increased by 56% worldwide from 2012 to 2016. These include counterfeit medicines, illegally diverted medicines (a genuine pharmaceutical product is approved and intended for sale in one country, but is then illegally intercepted and sold in another country) and stolen products.1 The spectrum of counterfeit products ranges from drugs without active ingredients to those with dangerous impurities. These may be copies of branded products, generics or over-the-counter medicines.1 There has also been an increase in illegal imports of medicines in Switzerland in recent years.2 In 2017, the Federal Customs Administration has secured 1060 consignments of illegally imported medicines.3

New forensic laboratory at the MSD research and development site in Schachen

To investigate manipulations and counterfeiting of MSD products, MSD opens one of its three forensic laboratories worldwide at its site in Schachen, Canton Lucerne, Switzerland. The Swiss laboratory is responsible for the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa), the other two cover America and the Asia-Pacific region. In Schachen, scientific staff use analytical methods and highly specialized instruments to distinguish forgeries from original products and, if necessary, to represent the results in court in order to provide expert support for prosecutions. The specialists of the forensic laboratory also have the task to further advance the protection of MSD products against counterfeiting worldwide.

"With the opening of the forensic laboratory, we are expanding our expertise at the MSD research and development site in Schachen and are also making an important contribution to patient safety in this area," says Dr. Stephanie Mössner, Director ACDS (Analytical Chemistry) Werthenstein BioPharma GmbH, MSD Switzerland.

At the MSD Research and Development Center in Schachen, Canton Lucerne, suspected cases of counterfeit drugs are being investigated in the newly opened forensic laboratory. © MSD Merck Sharp & Dohme AG

Christopher Hopkins, Director Forensic Services Laboratories, and Anthony Zook, Executive Director, Product Integrity, at MSD during their visit to the opening of the new forensic laboratory in Schachen, Switzerland. © MSD Merck Sharp & Dohme AG

Detailed information about the R&D location of MSD in Switzerland can be found here.

MSD's product integrity and patient safety strategy

Since 2009, MSD has invested in a rigorous strategy to combat counterfeiting. The aim is to protect patients from the harm associated with counterfeit, diverted and other illicit medicines. The program today is recognized as an industry-leading effort.
In 2017, MSD investigated 884 product integrity incidents worldwide, 233 of them (26%) in EMEA. Many of these concerned new or emerging threats to MSD products; others helped to collect or counteract further information on known threats.

More information:MSD Global Responsibility Report


About MSD

MSD is a leading global biopharmaceutical company which has been engaged in life science research for more than a century, developing drugs and vaccines for the most challenging diseases worldwide. MSD is a registered trademark of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA. With our prescription drugs, vaccines, biological therapies, and veterinary products, we offer innovative health solutions in over 140 countries. With wide-ranging programs and partnerships, we are also committed to achieving improved access to healthcare. Today MSD is still at the forefront of research for the prevention and treatment of diseases which threaten people and society around the world, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, new animal diseases, Alzheimer’s, and infectious diseases, including HIV and Ebola. For more information visit and follow us on Twitter.

MSD Human Medicine Switzerland

Switzerland is a key location for the company, which has 600 employees working there in national and international functions. The Human Medicine division in Switzerland is responsible for the distribution of prescription drugs and biopharmaceuticals in the areas of oncology, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases (including anti-fungal, antibiotic resistance, HIV/Aids, and hepatitis C), immunology, women’s health as well as vaccines for children, young people, and adults.

MSD is active in clinical research in Switzerland, where the company provides medicines for clinical trials worldwide. Additionally, MSD is committed to raising health literacy and promoting the healthcare economy on a local level. The firm is also active in Lucerne, where the MSD headquarters are located. In 2018 the company received certification as a “Top Employer” in Switzerland for the sixth year in succession, as well as the “Top Employer Europe” award for the third time.

More information is available at:

Press contact:
Dr. Angelika März, Director Policy & Communications
MSD Merck Sharp & Dohme AG
Tel. +41 58 618 35 18 / Mobile 079 378 02 47

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CORP-1241900-0020, March 2018