As the Japanese government is set to finally allow online selling and distribution of almost all over-the-counter medications come spring this year, Japan’s Ministry of Health will also step up its efforts in countering foreign websites who sell fake drugs, this in cooperation with foreign governments staring fiscal 2014, ministry sources revealed. As the ban is lifted, some experts have pointed out that there might be more people duped into buying fake drugs on foreign websites.
Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has been on the alert recently after there have been and increasing number of reports of websites – all in the Japanese language – being operated by drug sellers out of Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries that are used to peddle fake drugs to Japanese online buyers. One case from the reports coming into the health ministry tells of a Japanese customer ordering what a foreign website claimed was a diet drug, but was sent a different medication. One such website also published contact information for a “customer service center” in Tokyo, which does not exist, in an effort to pass itself off as a shop operating in Japan.
In fiscal 2011 alone, the Japanese health ministry has issued administrative warnings to a total of 306 overseas online drug sellers and 34 domestic sellers. The ministry has been on the alert for these issues because of reports of health problems possibly caused by fake medicine. The ministry plans to increase its personnel assigned specifically for monitoring the Internet in search of malicious online drug sellers. The health ministry is also in plans to ask overseas domain administrators to help in shutting down these illegal websites.