Medication in Japan

Good morning everyone,

Whether it's a simple cold or a chronic illness, medication and medicine use vary from country to country and culture to culture.

When you are used to certain brands or types of drugs, being in a country like Japan with different rules can affect your daily well-being.

Some drugs also differ in name, price, dosage, active molecule, so we would like to hear your opinion on these issues:

Have you ever had difficulties finding familiar or useful medicines for your health in your host country?

Have you ever been faced with a shortage of medicines in Japan?

Would you have said that in Japan drugs are more or less expensive than in your home country? Do you find them more or less effective or of similar quality?

What is the place of alternative medicines in your host country? Have you ever used them?

Thank you in advance for your feedback,


I can only mention about our experiences as a family that frequently visits Japan. and that would be that during simple illnesses such as flu and fever and having visited a hopsital in the area of Numazu in Shizuoka Prefecture, that of the three large hospitals in the area, the first one we visited was closed. The second was better and we managed to find a receptionist who could speak a little English and also a doctor who could speak very little English but enough.

The medicine prescribed for my wife's flu was nothing that we had heard of and we assumed it was totally Japanese. However, the results were excellent and that has given us a very good impression of medicines and healthcare in Japan.

There are drugstores and minimarts everywhere and you can always easily buy medicines for simple ailments, as long as you can find someone who speaks a little English. Minimarts such as 7-eleven and Family Mart have some great lozenges with also have an antibiotic ingredient and as good if not better than those that we find in other countries.

Fortunately we have not had any serious incidents in Japan and as we are not yet living there we have no need to medical insurance there.

In japan l can find most of the medication l need. Although there are 2 major problems. A lot of medication have a different name, or get a Japanese version of the name. Also l find a lot of medication is weaker than what l used in my home country. For strong medication you need to visit a doctor to get a prescription.

Glad I found this post and hope people are still looking at it.

I may or may not be moving to Japan (not sure of the city) soon. I am checking early to see if my seizure medications are available there and what I need from the US to continue to get the meds in Japan. I take 800 mg Aptiom (eslicarbazepine acetate) and Keppra (Levetiracetam) 500 mg to control my seizures. Seizures don't happen as long as I have the meds. Would I find them at a pharmacy or would I need to go to the doctor? Is it possible to buy them online without a prescription?

Thanks in advance

E Keppra is available in Japan.

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Aptiom is a Japanese medication made by Dai Nippon Pharma.

The exact dpsage size may vary from what you are used to.

They are prescription and you would need to go to a doctor in Japan. A letter from

your current doctor should do it.