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Japan With Kids - Forums: Health Topics: Medications

By guest on Friday, October 13, 2000 - 1:00 am:

I went to a local doctor today and the doctor made out 2 prescriptions, one for my baby and one for me. As far as I can tell, they are both the same product. I'm on the National Health Insurance system. She charged me for the prescription. Does anyone know if the practice in Japan is that every patient has to have his/her own medication or is she ripping me off?

By tokyoexpat on Tuesday, December 5, 2000 - 3:33 pm:

Japanese are an honest lot except for the politicians and business leaders! This practice is normal.

by Admin - If you and your baby are covered under Japan National Health Insurance, keep in mind that children under 3 years old are covered 100%. Adults have to pay a portion of the cost (generally about 30%). this applies both to examinations and prescriptions.

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, December 5, 2000 - 6:34 pm:

Not only that, but medical practice-wise, I'm pretty sure it would be inappropriate to issue one prescription for two people. I don't think you would see any U.S. M.D. doing that. I would think the dose would be different for a baby and an adult.

By J Clark on Wednesday, December 5, 2001 - 1:37 am:

I'm about to move to a more rual area of Japan next month and I'm having trouble finding information on Synthroid, a thyroid medication. Does anyone know if this is available? Any and all information will greatly help!

By Mindy Fenton Samuels on Tuesday, December 11, 2001 - 5:16 pm:

Synthroid as well as other forms of thyroxine are available in Japan; however, the cost is astromonical when compared to Australia, the US or the UK. If possible, you might want to purchase your medication in bulk from another country.

By Melissa Mcnulty on Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 8:43 pm:

Not sure if this is common knowledge or not, but I just wanted to pass a recent discovery re. medications along....

After yet another unsuccessful struggle to get our daughter to take those packets of ferociously bitter powdered medicines that our doctor always prescribes, a Japanese mum at my husbands work told us about medicine patches. Basically, there are some medications available in patch form (rather like a nicotine patch) that you put on your child's skin once a day. Presto! No bowls of icecream flung across the floor. We also got another medication in syrup form, thus eliminating the four packets of stuff a day that we were trying to wangle into our 19 month old.

Our experience was that we had to go back to our doctor and specifically request the medication to be given in this way if possible. So it may be worth a try for all the other parents out there who are likewise having a hard time getting their kids to take their medicine.

Hope this makes the passage of the next ear infection/cold/etc a little easier!

By Anne on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - 2:26 pm:

Hi, How can I buy medication imported from the US? I have a Rx prescription of a drug approved in Japan but the dosage is different here and there is no controlled release formulation. I would like to use the same drug as I used in the US as the dosage should be very precise. Does anyone know a Pharmacy/ Doctor in Tokyo that can import drugs from the US ?

By Penny Poe on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - 3:33 pm:

I would try the Tokyo Medical Clinic. They have U.S. immunizations which many Japanese hospitals do not so they may have access to U.S. medications.
There telephone number is 03-3436-3028. They have a pharmacy on the first floor. All doctors speak fluent English as do the staff.

By tokio on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 2:35 am:

The Japanese regulation does not allow bringing in large quantities of medication with you upon entry or by shipping (even with medical certificate). Some are not even allowed in Japan (ie, some inhalers and codeine, since they are recognized as drug-of-abuse here).

There are internet pharmacies, with a licensed doctor's prescription, that may accept your orders and ship them from the States, etc, but no more than 3 month-supply.

For the same reason, no hospitals, clinics, or doctors can import medicine of their choice. There are exceptions for research purposes, but in this case, they will have to go through a big hassel with the legal documents.

Meanwhile, I hear some doctors do, import with or without legal documents... just a rumor, maybe. Anyway, all medical supplies must be approved by the Japanese government without excuse.

Most medicines have different product names in Japan, so it is important for you to know the generic name for better responce by the doctor. All expat clinics here should have an American Drug Index-ish reference so may not be a big thing. If you are able to encounter the same chemistry here, you just have to trust the Japanese pharmaceuticals, that manufacture these in Japan, under the license agreement from the patent-holder. The dose or the strength (mg) might be different, but if you are not under the Japanese Health Insurance, the doctors can prescribe you the same dosage you are familiar with. With this insurance, doctors get a lot of restrictions on the maximum dosage, length of prescription, and even what he can prescribe (or the tests). You will definitely benefit by not using the Japanese insurance if you are looking for a Western standard medical care.

By Linda Gondo on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 5:22 pm:

Some people might find the above Japanese online pharamacy useful for medications not available here. No prescription is needed, which initially made me rather suspicious, however upon ordering, the product came within five days and the product was exactly the same as back home. The website is in Japanese only.

By Nancy on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 9:51 pm:

When I clicked on the link, at the top of the page, near the little shopping cart icon, there are flags, one being US - when I clicked on it the page switched to English. It says they will ship worldwide.

By Caroline on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 10:07 am:

I've bought from Inhouse pharmacy and service was good (quick delivery). Now, it seems that some online pharmacies are selling counterfeit contraceptives. BEWARE!

By Sarah_W on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 3:34 am:

Does anyone know how I can find out if
certain medications are available by
prescription in Japan? Is it possible to
bring in a supply, if they are not? I
suppose it depends on the med, but I have
had the darndest time trying to figure it

By Anne on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 11:23 am:

Hi Sarah,

You can order via the internet prescibtion medications sold in the US (you don't need a prescribtion actually, they will send almost anything to you).:

If you need to know if a drug is sold in Japan you need to know the generic name as usually the brand name is different from one country to another. Then you can check with your doctor or pharmacy here if the medication is available and what is the brand name.

If you need more information, just email me.


By Sarah_W on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 3:06 am:

Thank you, everyone! It has been very
helpful. I wonder what the Japanese
government thinks of sites like Inhouse
Pharmacy? They don't require a
prescription or a consultation with a
doctor to buy any of the medication. I
wonder if the government would consider
that illegal importation of prescription

On another note, looking at the online
pharmacy got me wondering how parents
of kids who are taking medication for their
ADHD deal with the move to Japan. Most
of the prescription medication for ADHD is
what we call in the US "Schedule II" and it
is not a class of medications that the
online pharmacies deal with. I don't mean
to start any sort of debate on ADHD--I
was just wondering if there is support in
Japan for families dealing with this issue.

By Yuko Kubota on Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 1:42 am:

Sarah wrote;
"ADHD--I was just wondering if there is support in Japan for families dealing with this issue."

Well, there is support for sure. Perhaps not many, but there are parents groups that gather professional information and share everyday tips. There are doctors that deal with ADHD. I'm not keen on the subject, but I once participated in a group meeting in which I easily obtained details through the hokenjo (public health center). In fact it was a cheery atmosphere and very informative.

By Traci on Friday, May 19, 2006 - 12:22 pm:

Does anyone know of a website that lists PROHIBITED prescription medication. By this, I mean medication that can not be brought into Japan at all. Thanks.

By Nancy on Friday, May 19, 2006 - 4:51 pm:

Traci, here is a link to the main page of Japan customs.

Some of the brochures list banned substances, but if you want more specific information, I would send them an email. I have written in the past and received a response.

By William Amsden on Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 10:13 am:

The error messages are being sent to everyone on the email list. Can this be fixed?