- Global Pharma News & Resources

An Overview of the Japanese OTC Market 2018: Regulations, Market Size, Distribution Channels, Major OTC Companies, Along with Current and Future Outlook -

The "An Overview of Japanese OTC market 2018" report has been added to's offering.

The report shows the overview of Japanse OTC market. The reader will understand the overall market situation, including related regulations, market size, distribution channels, major OTC companies, along with current and future outlook.

Japanese OTC market had decreased in the past and hit the bottom in 2007. From 2012 it saw to the growth due to the inbound sales. After it almost stopped in 2016, the market has been flat for years. We anticipate the market will remain flat or slight increase for next 3-5 years.

Taisho Pharmaceuticals has been the sole OTC giant, and it will lead the market in the future.

From October 1, 2014, food, cosmetic and OTC have been added to the tax-exemption products. This revision encouraged foreigners, especially from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, to purchase consumable goods including OTC products in 2015. The special demand from the inbound sales has almost stopped by 2016, as people in those countries now are able to purchase many of Japanese products in their home countries.

Switch OTC was initially expected to be the key piece to the advancement of self-medication. However, the progress has been extremely slow, as groups with vested interests have shown strong resistance.

The biggest underlying factor of the weak domestic demand lies in Japan's public health care system as cheaper and more effective prescription drugs can be taken by going to a clinic or hospital. This also explains why there is no significant growth in Switch OTC.

The engine of the future growth will be the expansion of e-commerce (internet). This also may bring a major structural reform in the OTC retail industry. Internet retail giant Amazon began internet sales of OTC in September 2013. In May 2017, it has started to sell Type I OTC through its online store called Amazon Pharmacy, which means it covers most of OTC products

The main threat to OTC market is health foods. On April 1, 2001, the Food with Health Claims System was established, and until now, 3 types of health foods have been introduced. Manufacturers can launch products with health/functional claims on labels very quickly and easily compared to OTC.

The arrival of foods with health claims has gradually changed the environment where the OTC market had been protected by the regulation for a long time. We anticipate the boundary in consumers' mind between foods with health claims and OTC get vague over years, and move toward similar status as dietary supplement and OTC in US.

Key Topics Covered:


  • Definition of Pharmaceuticals
  • Definition of OTC
  • Definition of Quasi-Drugs

Type of OTC

  • Switch OTC Products

Related Laws and Regulations

  • Approval for Manufacture and Sale
  • Regulations Concerning Sales
  • Regulations Concerning Advertising
  • Internet Sales
  • National healthcare insurance

Deregulation History

  • Tax Free Shopping Program for Foreign Visitors
  • Self Medication Taxation Program
  • Major Industrial Groups
  • Distribution Channel
  • E-Commerce to Consumers

Market Size

  • Market Share by Type of OTC
  • Breakdown by Medicinal Category

Overview of Top 5 OTC Companies

  • Taisho
  • Takeda
  • Daiichi Sankyo Healthcare
  • SS Pharmaceuticals
  • Rohto Pharmaceuticals

Points to Be Considered for Future OTC Market

  • Deregulations related to OTC
  • Impact from the recent measurements by Japanese government
  • vs Prescription drugs
  • vs Foods with health claims
  • E-commerce
  • Overall prospects
  • Views from firms who plan to enter the market

For more information about this report visit

View source version on

Editor Details

Last Updated: 20-Nov-2018