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The Supreme Court’s Second Petit Bench ruled 4-0 on Jan. 11 that the health and welfare ministry’s ban on the sale of nonprescription drugs over the Internet is null and void. Two firms had filed the lawsuit. While maximum priority should be given to drug safety, a balance must be struck between safety and convenience for consumers. The government should work out a rational rule for the sale of nonprescription drugs over the Internet since demand for such sales will inevitably increase.

In June 2009, when the revised Pharmaceutical Affairs Law went into force under the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito administration, the ministry issued an ordinance dividing nonprescription drugs into three categories in accordance with the intensity of their possible side effects.

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