Retail drug sales on Internet legal


The Tokyo High Court ruled Thursday that it is legal to sell nonprescription drugs on the Internet, repealing a lower court decision that approved a health ministry ordinance banning online sales of many of them.

Two online sellers — Tokyo-based Inc. and Yokohama-based Wellnet — demanded the ordinance be repealed because it infringes on commercial freedom and is thus unconstitutional.

In March 2010, the Tokyo District Court ruled the ordinance constitutional, given that it is difficult for online sellers to ascertain the health of buyers, the drugs’ side effects, and to fully prevent health damage.

The ordinance allows online sales of low-risk goods, like vitamin supplements and mouthwash, but bans cold, fever and pain relievers, hair-growth agents, herbal medicines and pregnancy test agents.