Japan limits sale of Covid19-related drugs to tourists

TOKYO, 11 Jan 2023:

The Japanese health ministry has asked shops and pharmacies to check the bulk sale of medicines used to treat Covid19 – especially to tourists – following reports that several Chinese nationals were buying drugs to send home during their visit to Japan.

“There is a lot of news of cases of large purchases of cold and flu medicines that could be used to treat symptoms of the coronavirus. So we ask that they check their sales so that there can be a stable supply of these medicines,” said a health ministry spokesperson, who asked not to be named.

The spokesperson today stressed this measure did not specifically target Chinese citizens, but only sought to restrict the amount of medicines that could be purchased per person.

In a statement published at the end of December, the ministry also asked drugstores and pharmacies to ensure a stable supply of medicines by enforcing a “one box per person” rule.

However, it did not indicate whether there would be any penalty for those businesses that do not follow the regulations.

The statement also underlined that reselling these drugs was illegal and asked foreign tourists not to buy in bulk and hoard medicines.

The ministry’s statement came in light of several media reports of tourists – mostly Chinese – making large purchases of medicines to treat Covid19 following a large-scale increase in coronavirus infections in China.

A Chinese visitor on a business trip to Japan recently told local media Asahi that she would be carrying some 30-40 boxes of medicines when she returned to China.

Since Jan 8, Japan requires travellers from China to present a negative PCR certificate before boarding and undergo another test on arrival, following a fresh wave of cases in the country.

Many countries and regions have imposed restrictions on travellers from China amid fears of new variants and considering that Beijing has not shared real data on the extent of the current wave in its territory.