Ministry committee wants to speed up the process by which women can obtain pills.

Morning-after pills are available in Japan, where they’re known as “after pills” or kinkyuhininyaku (meaning “urgent contraceptive medicine”). In practice, though, they process of obtaining them is time-consuming enough to render them all but meaningless.

Under current Japanese laws, the only way to get morning-after pills is by prescription. That means a woman needs to make, and wait for, an appointment with a doctor, then, after securing a prescription, go to the pharmacy and wait for the medicine to be made. That’s a lot of time spent waiting around for a very time-sensitive issue, and while morning-after pills are generally still effective up to 72 hours after intercourse, for women who can’t jump through all those hoops in that amount of time morning-after pills may as well not exist.

That looks like it’ll be changing soon, though. A Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare committee has concluded its review of Japan’s current morning-after pill regulations and proposed that the medicine be made commercially available without a prescription, with the ministry approving the proposal on Monday in Tokyo.

Approval of the legal revision has been a long time coming. The ministry discussed doing away with the prescription requirement in 2017, with the measure failing to pass due to concerns over misuse of the medicine. A few years later the topic came up again amongst legislators, but the wheels of government, as they so often do, seem to have turned slowly.

Under the proposal, non-prescription sales of morning-after pills could start, on a test basis, as early as this summer nationwide in Japan. However, picking up morning-after pills won’t be as easy as picking up a bottle of tea at the convenience store. In order to sell morning-after pills without a prescription, drugstores must meet certain requirements, such as having trained pharmacists on staff who’re available nights and weekends, facilities to protect purchasers’ privacy, and coordination with local OB/GYN clinics.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Livedoor News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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