Drug approvals and pharmaceutical affairs in Japan

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Flu fortune
Filed under: Medicinal products
Posted by: Kanri @ 2:04 am

In Japan the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law (PAL) permits individual import of both approved and unapproved drugs, as long as you have a prescription from Japanese physician.

Should we expect the Tamiflu to crash this winter the previous individual import record of Thalidomide (reportedly about 500,000 tablets were imported before the approval)?

Tamiflu is sold in Japan in two formulations: 75 mg capsules and 3% dry syrup, as the cost for 1-day treatment is 727.4 Yen for capsules and 1,392.5 Yen for the syrup. 

Reported below in Yomiuri Shimbun:

Shortages push Tamiflu prices up 10-fold

Online purchases have depleted stocks. One agent offers 10 capsules of Tamiflu, or oseltamivir, imported from the United States for 30,000 yen, excluding shipping charges. "One U.S. company recently told us the price had risen to more than 300 dollars. We need to raise ours to 38,000 yen just to show a profit," the company’s president said. According to the company, which has acted as an import agent for six years, demand for Tamiflu remained low until last year when 10 capsules could be obtained for 8,000 yen. The government in 2001 designated the drug to be covered by national health insurance.

Purchase orders for Tamiflu surged early this month following an increase in news reports on the spread of a new type of influenza and the government’s announcement of its plan to further stockpile the flu-fighting drug. The company received orders for about 20 sets in the past week. Another agent, which offers Tamiflu for 25,000 yen, said it was out of stock and had a waiting list of about 100 people.

Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., which imports and markets Tamiflu, prices the drug at 363.7 yen per capsule. A dosage of two capsules a day is normally recommended for five days, and a set of 10 capsules is offered at 3,637 yen. Insurance coverage reduces the price to about 1,100 yen, but it requires a doctor’s prescription, which increases to the total cost to about 3,000 yen.

(Nov. 24, 2005)

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