Fact Check-3D capsule for assisted suicide hasn’t been approved by Swiss medical board

Refiled to correct duplicate word in verdict paragraph

The invention of a 3D printed pod designed to allow assisted suicide has gained widespread media coverage, but some reports have incorrectly stated that the pod has been approved by a Swiss medical board.

The pod, which is not for sale, is named ‘Sarco’ and requires a 3D printer to be made. Only two prototypes have been assembled so far.

According to the designer’s website, the capsule allows conditions to be created that “produce a rapid decrease in oxygen level, while maintaining a low CO2 level”, leading to death (here).

Philip Nitschke, creator of the Sarco capsule, told Reuters via email that his company commissioned a legal review to identify any legal obstacles that could hinder the use of the Sarco pod in Switzerland.

According to Nitschke, the review found no requirement to license or seek approval for the use of the device in the country. As such, the Sarco had not been submitted to any medical review board, he told Reuters.

Alex Josty, spokesperson for Swissmedic, the Swiss authority responsible for the authorization of drugs and medical products, told Reuters by email that the authority had not heard of the capsule before the media reports and that it would not fall under Swissmedic’s responsbility as it was not ‘medicine’.

The claim of medical board approval (examples here , here) may have arisen after a Dec. 6, 2021, English language article from, the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, carried the headline, "Sarco suicide capsule 'passes legal review' in Switzerland". The quoted words in the headline referred to a comment from Nitschke about his company’s internal legal review.

SwissInfo issued an apology and changed the headline on Dec. 8, 2021 (here ). The article is now entitled “Sarco suicide capsule hopes to enter Switzerland”.


False. A 3D printed pod for assisted suicide hasn’t been approved by a Swiss medical board. The designer of the pod said his company had not applied for an authorization or license for the use of the device in the country, as it did not believe it needed to.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work (here) .