Japan to start trial of over-the-counter sales of morning-after pills

Kathleen Benoza

Japan will launch a trial of sales of emergency contraceptive pills without a prescription on Tuesday, moving the nation closer to over 90 countries that already allow over-the-counter sales of such drugs at pharmacies.

The health ministry will allow 145 stores nationwide to sell morning-after pills until the end of March, with two to three stores per prefecture selling the drug. The price is expected to be between Yen7,000 ($47) and Yen9,000.

Pharmacies participating in the trial need to meet various requirements, such as being able to provide services during evenings, weekends and holidays, as well as having pharmacists trained in dispensing emergency contraceptive pills based on the same training used for online medical consultations. The pharmacies should also be able to collaborate with nearby obstetricians and gynecologists, as well as support centers for victims of sexual violence, and have facilities ensuring privacy during the sale.

Only individuals age 16 or older can purchase the pills, with those who are 16 or 17 years old required to have their guardian accompany them.

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