«Danger to health»
Swissmedic closes Neuchâtel PCR test laboratory
Last September, Swissmedic ordered the closure of a laboratory in the canton of Neuchâtel due to serious abuses. Etilab, based in Boudry NE, was issuing up to 1000 PCR tests a day at the height of the Corona pandemic – at the expense of quality.
Published: 53 minutes ago
The laboratory in Neuchâtel carried out up to 1000 PCR tests per day at the height of the Covid pandemic. (icon picture)
“Such a quantity of non-conformity, and above all such a quantity that has to be classified as critical, is really rare,” said Georges Meseguer, head of the Certificates and Authorization section at the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, Swissmedic, on Monday evening on the 7:30 p.m. program on RTS television in western Switzerland. The head of the company challenged the order point by point, but the abuses were classified as so serious that the authorities refused the suspensive effect.
Swissmedic’s decision to withdraw the operating license for all activities in the field of human communicable diseases thus became legally binding as early as September. The drug agency’s report stated that if the laboratory were to continue, “there would be a concrete risk to health”. In total, the laboratory was accused of 32 shortcomings, both in terms of scientific quality, hygiene and the IT system.
According to the RTS, the cantonal health service has initiated its own administrative procedure for the compliance of the laboratory’s other activities, such as taking blood. As a precautionary measure and without waiting for the investigation to be completed, the canton of Neuchâtel finally closed the site completely before the Christmas holidays.
In the summer of 2021, the Neuchâtel public prosecutor’s office launched a criminal investigation into the laboratory for possible falsification of documents. Several employees had reported the company for allegedly sending out negative Covid certificates without having carried out the tests in the laboratory.
The investigation is still ongoing. Prosecutor Manon Simeoni told the Keystone-SDA news agency that it was complex and took more time than originally expected, since a large number of complicated technical computer data had to be processed and analyzed. Simeoni expects the process to be completed in the first half of the year.
The doors of the laboratory were literally knocked down during the corona pandemic. It recorded peak values of up to 1000 customers per day. PCR tests without an appointment were issued for 100 francs, rapid tests for 40 francs.