By Kim Rahn
Cold medicines, painkillers and digestives will be available at convenience stores starting today.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Wednesday a revised law on pharmaceutical affairs will take effect on Thursday to allow such over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to be sold at places other than pharmacies.
The measure was designed to help citizens get such medicines at night or on weekends when most pharmacies are closed, despite years-long opposition from pharmacists.
As a prior step before the revision was made, in July last year the government changed the category of 48 OTC drugs, such as digestive drinks and antiseptic lotions, into health-related products, not medicines, making them available at convenience stores.
Among 13 drugs allowed, 11 will be immediately available: painkillers and fever remedies for adults and children such as Tylenol; cold medicines including Pancol A; digestives including Bearse; and antiphlogistic patches such as Jeil Cool Pap.
Another two drugs will become available starting next February as it takes time for the manufacturers to come up with new packaging. To prevent abuse of the drugs, they will be sold by the one-day dose, and people under 12 years old cannot buy them.
Some 11,500 convenience stores will join the sales, about 47 percent of the nation's total. The measure will be expanded to supermarkets gradually.