New policy of prescription drugs

At the end of last year, a government study group proposed a new policy on the sale of drugs. From this new policy, the government has allowed the sale of drugs in the absence of pharmacists between the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., provided that consumers are allowed to consult pharmacists through a video phone. In April, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, or Korosho, created a working group to reform the drug marketing system in an effort to better accommodate the changes in people’s lifestyles. In preparation for the amendment of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law in 2006, the group has begun to review the drug marketing system in Japan, which is reported to be more complex than in other countries, and to reclassify drugs. Based on the information received, the group plans to use the British and Austrian classification systems as reference for reclassifying drugs.