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Gov't eyes tighter rules for online drug vendors after losing Supreme Court case


The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Saturday it plans to establish a panel to draw up new rules for selling medication online.

The announcement follows Friday's Supreme Court ruling in which two online medicine retailers appealed a government ban and won the right to continue to sell nonprescription drugs, such as flu medicine for example, online.

In 2009, over-the-counter drugs were divided into three classes, according to their potential side effects, following which the government, at the request of the Japan Pharmaceutical Association, which represents more than 100,000 pharmacists in the country, made sales of class 1 and 2 non-prescription drugs illegal online.

Online retailers Kenko.com and Wellnet filed a lawsuit against the government in March of 2010, but the Tokyo District Court rejected the suit and upheld the constitutionality of the ban.

However, Kenko.com and Wellnet successfully appealed to the Supreme Court that this was excessive regulation and that the ban was unconstitutional, TBS reported. The Supreme Court ruled in their favor Friday and recognized their right to sell some over-the-counter drugs online.

In response, the health ministry said it plans to introduce new, stricter rules for online medicine vendors.

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What a joke!!!

Instead of any deregulation to benefit the consumer The LDP are set to screw all the dupes that just put them back in power by keeping prices high.

The reason that drugs are so well protected is because they are so expensive-collusion between big pharma and politicians .

Bad luck for the average Taro eh?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

This tis an important move ,ESPECIALLY if Japan joins the TPP. * * For one thing the Gov't can control the CONTENT in the drugs better. . . . .....................many drugs from online sites are substandard and often mixed with unnecessary substances SECONDLY, opening up sales through websites, DOES NOT bring prices down. .................... INFACT comparatively speaking, J Medications are far lower than American, Canadian, British or Australian. *THIRDLY, J meds are a higher quality.......... Jpnse pharmaceuticals do longer trials to ensure SAFETY & EFFICACY of their drugs . . . . . . ..

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

This is absolute rubbish! How can they prohibit the online sale of over-the-counter medicines? It is no different to any other consumable product like, shoes or orange juice. I know the fair trade association would have a field day with this one in Australia and the government regulators would be shutdown quick smart! Seriously, Japan has some really stupid people making laws in this country! Really stupid!!!!

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Disillusioned: Shows how much you know @ drug production. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between any thing from Over-the-counter aspirin to Prescription Meds, like antibiotics.. . * .J Medicine is of the highest quality in the world bc most of its is MANUFACTURED IN THE COUNTRY AND NOT OUT-SOURCED TO PLACES LIKE CHINA ................... . . . . . . .THAT IS WHY, for instance, JAPNSE Flu Shots are much safe than those given , say in Canada or USA.( manufactured in China) and often contimainated. . . .

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Semperfi - Shows how much I know? I know that, if these medications are safe to sell over the counter there is no reason why they can't be sold online. Nothing in your explanation refers to the idiocy of this decision. If they drugs are not safe to sell online they should not be on the over-the-counter list, should they? They should be classified as prescription only medications. Japanese cold and flu medications are not very good at all. Most of them make feel worse because of the restrictions on psudoephidren and codein they are concoction of chemicals that nobody can explain. And, thankfully, Tamiflu is on the prescription list. However, the quacks still give it out like candy despite a string of suicides and psychotics episodes from those that have been prescribed it. Would you like me to go on about the over use of steroids for skin afflictions? Sorry semperfi, you have only shown how little you know. :D

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's a joke, it's bigger companies and pharmaceutical manufactures trying to keep a monopoly going. Semperfi....you've put Japan up on a very high pedestal. Their drugs in many cases are less effective than prescription drugs made or engineered in the North American continent or Europe. There are many cases of where drugs could be used here to save costs and physical damages that have been proven good elsewhere. There are over the counter medications that the average person with reading skills can and should be able to purchase online so long as the check the box read and understood before being allowed to purchase.

It's all business ....money grabbing power control with the real concern and well being of the public in mind ....just their coffers

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Backward and stupid thinking as usual! I was told by many of my doctor students that the new gov't (Abe) was keenly aware of medical reform in this country and that given his own (Abe) medical condition he understands about medical advancement and restructuring that is necessary for Japan. Ahhhhh, how full of BS all that is. The country is on the road to reverse I'm afraid, pathetic.....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I agree of course that there is no reason to restrict the online sales of over the counter drugs. I also think that purchase of overseas drugs is overly restricted.

Of course, it is important to stop inferior products from being marketed in this country. However, if I want to buy supplements that I like from overseas which are produced by perfectly reputable suppliers and are not available in Japan, I can only buy a single month's supply at one time. When you add on the cost of delivery, these products that are reasonably priced if you buy a 3 month, 6 month or 1 year supply suddenly become prohibitively expensive.

There is an awful lot done in the name of public safety which in fact limits the public's choice in order to protect the local industry. The same goes for many other products as well, such as rice.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Dog & Disillusioned : North AmericaN multi-corp - pharmaceuticals want a monopoly on markets including Japan. ------------------- -In NorthAmerica , how many drugs are recalled and how many class action law suits are there in because Pharmaceuticals did not run proper trials and had a drug endorsed prematurely ! . . . .That simply does not happen as frequently in Japan. . . . . ....................................I speak from experience ,b ecause someone in my family is very ill and has been treated in New York, Vancouver and here - I have a fairly good working idea of the differences in medical care and drug therapy . . .Japan still holds the ace, overall.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Semperfi's comments that Japanese medicine is made in Japan may be true, but that does NOT indicate high quality. I would refer you to Japan's experience in creating its own measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine in one shot. It used to be that all three shots were given separately, like everywhere else in the world. Then U.S. drug manufacturer Merck came up with MMR, which combined them all in one convenient shot. At that point Japan COULD have opened the doors to MMR -- but if it had, it would have meant that a foreign corporation would have reaped the massive profits instead of a Japanese one. Instead, in the late 1980s a Japanese medical corporation tried its hand at making its own version of MMR, with the results being that many children became ill and a few died. Such a result qualifies as too-extreme nationalism even in Japan, so they stopped making their own MMR -- but they never did get around to importing or licensing Merck's version. Which is why, even today, you still cannot get your children inoculated with one shot.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Newsman: Actually - the real problem around some of the vaccines like the one shot MMR is the agent THIMEROSAL...................... It contains mercury which is one of the most toxic substances known to mankind. Mercury has been proven to severely impair neurological development ,and can cause other side effects.................That is probably why it is banned in Japan.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

May I just add, . . . . . . .there have been ongoing INTERNATIONAL SURVEYS - comparing health care ( which includes, ACCESS / COST / RATE of CURE of DISEASES / effectivenes of DRUGS -----------------------------and in these surveys --- ( comparing DEVELOPED NATIONS, like France, USA, Britain, Germany, Canada , etc) --- Japan is consistently on Top , if not identified as NO 1. . . . . . . And, THAT is a fact.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Can't get the day after pill, abortion pills, birth control in the injection which had proven to lessen risk of cancer . These are some of the examples that could allow women to avoid scarring of the womb, unwanted pregnancies that get dumped in drop off boxes or worse yet like that poor little girl on the side of the road....why is it these haven't passed the regulatory boards approval ?? They've been used for over a decade now in a lot of other countries . It's about pharmaceutical companies working with physicians hogging the market and as stated above being too nationalistic to possible accept there is better medicine being produced outside Japan,

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Stay on topic please. Comments need to refer to what is in the story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is good at many things but when it comes to medicine it is at least 10 to 30 years behind in medicine availability.

I know a fair bit about this and any TOP doctor in this country will tell you of their frustration with the lack of access to new treatments.

Incidentally Japan hardly produces any medicines of its own. They are almost entirely copied from European and US pharmaceutical companies but license produced with permission if fairly new medicince.

In other cases big Japanese pharmaceutical companies wait for the patents to expire on effective drugs from overseas which is why there is usually a delay of between 8 to 30 years, sometimes 40 years.

Its all about money and protecting the home market and not anything about compassion.

Some one mentioned about the lack of lawsuits in Japan as an indication of the safety of domestic drugs. I'd put that down to culture of not questioning authority (doctors have huge status) and every one knows that they would never win against the Japanese medical establishment who all move in concert.

Lets hope the new government finally make moves on improving peoples lives.

3 ( +5 / -2 )


semperfiJan. 12, 2013 - 08:36PM JST

May I just add, . . . . . . .there have been ongoing INTERNATIONAL SURVEYS - comparing health care ( which includes, ACCESS / COST / RATE of CURE of DISEASES / effectivenes of DRUGS -----------------------------and in these surveys --- ( comparing DEVELOPED NATIONS, like France, USA, Britain, Germany, Canada , etc) --- Japan is consistently on Top , if not identified as NO 1. . . . . . . And, THAT is a fact.

I'm sorry but that just isn't true. As far as im aware the WHO stopped doing surveys 15 years ago. You might be looking at surveys done by the Japan Medical Association.

Almost nobody comes to Japan from overseas seeking medical care but alot of people go to America, Europe and a few Asian countries like Singapore.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Back on topic please.

In response, the health ministry said it plans to introduce new, stricter rules for online medicine vendors.

How childish, they lost but make up new rules

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I was looking online to find the best places for pharmaceutical studies. Japan isn't ranked on the list, few other links I checked as well pretty much rated the same. Consumers in Japan deserve to be allowed to seek or look for medicine that relieves their symptoms via the Internet if they cannot find suitable relief here. If anyone can show ratings of Japan and medicine it invents please do I would be interested in seeing this.


1 ( +3 / -2 )

This is maybe one way the Gov should be spending stimulus money: To drop drug costs, make availability easier and make the products better. Statistics and feedback on a national site would be good for the public, drug companies and Doctors also.

If people can buy and look online that can save money especially in rural areas with less choices. The problem with this model is that many smaller businesses are pushed out and the market consolidates -later the prices are raised. =Some equality in the market is needed thru Gov intervention.

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2013/01/330_114175.html (same issue in Korea but they are years ahead) Abe could use this issue to increase ties with Korea and promote a new Asia drug partnership. -If Japan does nothing the populace will go elsewhere where the drugs are cheaper.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Being a (dirty foreigner) guest in Japan has taught me many things. People from other countries share their experiences, perceptions. Banking, and medical...yet to hear anyone (except an American) say that the medical and availability of cutting edge treatments are are better here than at home. It's a closed market, Japan is based on the perception that Japanese are different than other humans and require different dosages or treatments based on the knowledge gained from Prussian medicine in 1766. This decision that the highest court in the land (is wrong) says a lot about the mind set of the latest administration. Japan is special? Good luck with that.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I am very anti-drug and believe in health thru nutrition/motion (Chinese Model). http://www.five-element.com/graphics/neijing.pdf (explains my position)

It is truly a balance and with an aging population drugs are needed, the other half is the nutritional component which has sort of been lost to fast/boxed food and high food prices. The young are worse off nutritionally than the old it seems so this issue will only get worse as time accrues. =a good place for Gov involvement and with better health you have better brain development/power.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is one of the faces of TPP. United States are desperate to get some return for money, no matter how. Surely there is a powerful lobby behind this ruling. It is very sad to know that health is treated as a mere commodity as well as in the United States.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It's nothing to do with TPP. The world is not all about Japan and the United States.

Are you serious that people buying over the counter medicines online as opposed to a walk in shop is evidence of foreign collusion?

Its rampant protectionism to that helps the Japanese drug industry maintain a no innovation status.

Its rather about becoming a modern society where people can make informed choices for goodness sake.

By the way health care in Japan is second to the USA among developed countries in cost to the patient but the difference is the treatment options here is still set some where in the mid 80's.


3 ( +3 / -0 )

I like being able to order what I want online and getting usually a better product at a lower cost. I don't feel like I should have to walk in to a clinic where all the sick people are waiting to be looked at. Internet is the way to go even for refilling prescriptions that don't need follow up assessments

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Note vitamins and other supplements are already OK to be sold online. It's the cold medicines and stomach pain medicines etc that are in question.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


A lot of you are not getting this AT ALL, this isnt about buying meds from OUTSIDE Japan, its ONLY about being able to buy meds that are sold in drug stores IN Japan, ONLINE.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ie YOU DONT have to go to the store, you go online & get delivery to your door!

Its all about $$$$$$$$$$$$ for drug stores & pharmacists

This has NOTHING to do with overseas meds!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

That said the stuff you can buy over the counter in Japan is UTTER CRAP, weak as hell, 99% is at best placebo

In 20+yrs here I have bought virtually NO MEDS OTC, if you need something THAT WORKS you have to go see the doctor & get perscription PERIOD!

I could rant further but hopefully this is enough for 99% of you who have read this blurb ALL WRONG! Especially semperfi, you totally missed it dude!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

GW is right about the references about medicine being talked about from other countries and ordering online from there. I think this article gave a bit of a opening to talk about how ineffective medicine is in this country over the counter and even for the most part from the clinic or hospital . You get the flu here and visit a hospital and go home with a huge bag with 5 different types of medicine...it's just the type of story that people like to and get to vent on other issues.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My online Viagra works as well as the Viagra in Japan only the Japanese sold drug is TEN times the price....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agreed, I've never reiceved any drugs including painkillers that work, NEVER in 20 years has any medicine actually worked, I purchase everything overseas and even get perscriptions from overseas as medicine in Japan is like then 1950

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Agreed, I've never reiceved any drugs including painkillers that work, NEVER in 20 years has any medicine actually worked,

You're very unlucky. I've had my life saved twice, quite literally, by Japanese doctors. I've been treated for broken bones five times.100% recovery every time. I thank God for Japanese hospitals.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@lucabrasi: I've broken bones in Japan, the painkillers worked about 25% of dulling the pain. Other times I've had infections where the doctors gave me stuff that didn't do anything what-so-ever, I had to cut my own arm to release the infection myself. I must be an gaijin enigma for Japanese doctors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Ouch! I guess I'm just lucky, living within ten minutes of four very-well equipped, modern hospitals with super-competent staff. I was as high as a kite for a week after breaking my arm last year and having it reset, with all the dope they were feeding me. Maybe having a sister-in-law on the nursing staff helped a bit.... ; )

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's the cold medicines and stomach pain medicines etc that are in question.

These bogus medications shouldn't be sold anywhere, but if they're selling them in shops there's not reason they shouldn't be allowed to sell them online.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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