改正薬事法施行 ネット販売の秩序ある拡大を

The Yomiuri Shimbun(May. 31, 2009)
Consistency key to safe, deregulated drug sales
改正薬事法施行 ネット販売の秩序ある拡大を(5月31日付・読売社説)

The revised Pharmaceutical Affairs Law, which takes effect Monday, is contradictory in many ways as it includes both a relaxation and tightening of regulations.

With the revised law's enforcement, the sales channels of nonprescription drugs are set to change significantly.

Under the new system, nonprescription drugs are organized into one of three categories depending on the necessary degree of caution that should be exercised over their side effects.

Category 1 drugs, which require a high degree of caution, cannot be sold unless pharmacists provide buyers with an explanation of the side effects and other information. However, Category 2 and Category 3 drugs, which are considered relatively safe, can be sold by registered sellers under a new qualification system.

Most cold and gastrointestinal medicines are Category 2 drugs, while vitamins and some other drugs fall under Category 3. Most nonprescription drugs can therefore be sold at convenience stores and other retail outlets.

This all makes the revised legislation sound like a positive step on the road to deregulation.


Unnecessary tightening

The problem is that the new regulations were devised on the assumption that nonprescription drugs would be sold over the counter. As a result, an ordinance issued by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry states that only Category 3 drugs can be ordered by telephone or through the Internet for mail delivery, even if other categories are being sold by pharmacists.

This regulation affects makers of traditional medicines, which ship Chinese herbal medicines to customers in distant locations, as well as operators of online drug stores and customers of both types of businesses.

Such a tightening of the regulations is hard to accept.

The ministry argues that the potential risks of drugs can only be explained properly face to face.

Of course safety should be the top priority with drug sales.

But it seems inconsistent that Category 2 drugs can still be purchased at convenience stores, where pharmacists are not present, when the risk posed by drugs being sold on the Internet, if sold by pharmacists in a responsible manner, likely would be very limited.


Hasty stopgap measure

Bearing in mind the impact of the regulations on users of traditional medicines and online drug stores, the ministry has hastily decided to implement a stopgap measure that will be in place for two years.

Under this move, people who have purchased drugs through mail order services will be able to continue using such services if they are buying the same type of drug and it falls into Category 2.
Those living on remote islands without access to a drug store, meanwhile, also will be allowed to obtain Category 2 drugs through mail order services.

But these moves pose problems.

The ministry says it will confirm whether such services are only being used by categories of users mentioned above, to ensure there is no chipping away at the new regulations. But if it can check whether these users are legitimate, surely it would be possible to monitor all online sales.

Nonprescription drugs could be sold safely and conveniently through the Internet and other channels if a system could be found that bars illegitimate sellers and malicious businesses.

Orderly deregulation should therefore be encouraged.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 31, 2009)
(2009年5月31日01時28分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-05-31 08:46 | 英字新聞

<< 海自P3C派遣 海賊対策で他国... 補正予算成立 危機対応に必要な... >>