Switzerland yet to approve key monkeypox medication as first case confirmed
Officials from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) have identified the first confirmed case of monkeypox in Switzerland. It comes as the country rushes to approve certain types of medication after NZZ am Sonntag revealed that vital drugs used to treat the disease are yet to be authorised.
First monkeypox case in Switzerland confirmed in Bern
The FOPH announced on May 21 that a confirmed case of monkeypox was detected in Canton Bern. The person, who is now self-isolating, had recently travelled abroad and is now receiving treatment for light symptoms. Close contacts have also been informed.
The alpine nation is one of a series of countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, to confirm a case of the disease in recent weeks. So far, more than 80 cases have been detected across Europe.
Monkeypox is a disease most common in areas of Africa and can be transmitted by close contact with infected people and animals, although it rarely spreads to humans. While not usually fatal, the disease can cause fever, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion and chicken-pox like rashes on the hands and face. For more information on the disease, check out the FOPH website.
Drugs used to treat monkeypox cases not authorised in Switzerland
After the first case was confirmed on Saturday, NZZ am Sonntag revealed that several treatments used to combat the disease are yet to be authorised in Switzerland. Antiviral drug tecovirimat and the latest generation of smallpox vaccine - both of which are used to treat severe cases of the disease - are not authorised for use in Swiss hospitals, despite being permitted in the EU.
The regulator of medicines in Switzerland, Swissmedic, said in a statement that it had not received any applications for these drugs to be used. They explained that smallpox, a close relation of monkeypox, is considered to be eradicated, which is why Swiss pharmaceutical companies have yet to apply for approval to use the new vaccine.
All those with symptoms should visit their doctor
Céline Gardiol from the FOPH said that the risks associated with the disease are low, although there is currently a lack of epidemiological data to predict how monkeypox will spread. "It can be assumed that more cases could occur in our country, as is the case in other countries," she predicted.
She urged all people with symptoms that include fever, headaches and rashes that develop pustules to see a doctor quickly. FOPH deputy director Linda Nartey assured the public, "At the moment we have no evidence that we are facing a new pandemic. But the situation - as is being done already - needs to be monitored."