Survey: 150 online retailers selling high-risk nonprescription drugs

Kyodo

A health ministry survey has revealed that 150 retailers were selling nonprescription drugs with high risks of side effects over the Internet as of the end of February.

The findings in the nationwide survey, released Friday, were reported to a panel meeting of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry the same day.

Ministry officials have been examining new ways to regulate these drug sales after the Supreme Court in January ruled in favor of retailers who had argued that an ordinance banning online sales of category 1 and 2 drugs, which have risky side effects, was illegal.

The survey showed that two online retailers were marketing category 1 drugs, including some analgesic antipyretic medications, while 133 were offering only category 2 drugs. Fifteen firms were found to be selling both category 1 and 2 drugs.

Officials said the ministry wants to call for voluntary restraint over Internet-based sales of such drugs to be exercised until new regulations are introduced.

In another survey conducted in March using data from prefectural governments, 13 retailers were confirmed to be selling category 1 drugs online and 11 of them had posted precautions on their websites.