Thursday, October 31, 2013
Rakuten Vows To Fight Restriction Of Online OTC Drug Sales
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Rakuten Inc. (4755) is "100% sure to take legal action" should the government limit online sales of certain nonprescription drugs, President Hiroshi Mikitani said Wednesday in an interview with The Nikkei.
Citing safety concerns, the Health Ministry is poised to ban Internet sales of five powerful nonprescription drugs for adults, and restrict the online sale of over-the-counter drugs previously available only by prescription for the first three years after reclassification. The Supreme Court created a regulatory vacuum in January when it struck down a Health Ministry regulation that disallowed the online sale of all drugs with a high risk of side effects.
"Another blanket ban with no rational basis would be a violation of business freedom," said Mikitani.
Rakuten subsidiary Kenko.com Inc. (3325), an e-commerce retailer specializing in health care products, brought the suit that won in the Supreme Court in January. The Rakuten group will consider filing another lawsuit if new restrictions are put in place.
Mikitani believes that a weakening of the principle that customers must buy medications in person may promote greater use of information technology in the health care field and lower costs. He noted that, from a safety standpoint, prescription medications are better suited to online sale than OTC drugs, and plans to press for deregulation in the future.
(The Nikkei, Oct. 31 morning edition)