The government panel tasked with recommending regulations reform has decided to give top priority in its discussions to the sale of nonprescription drugs over the Internet, along with such issues as the entry of commercial companies into the field of day-care services for children and the liberalization of sale of electricity.

Because even nonprescription drugs can cause serious side effects, the government should work out rules that will maximize both safety and convenience for consumers.

On Jan. 11, the Supreme Court's Second Petit Bench ruled 4-0 that the health and welfare ministry's ban on the sale of nonprescription drugs over the Internet is null and void. Since the ruling, some mail order companies have started vigorously selling such drugs over the Internet, including drugs whose sale over the Internet had been prohibited. Such sales will likely expand in the absence of rules to regulate them. Some companies have even started selling hair tonics that could cause health problems for people with heart disease. Certain rules are clearly necessary. For example, consumers should be strongly urged to read drug instructions, including warnings of possible side affects, prior to use of the product.