People affected by quake to be allowed to get medicines without prescription

Japan's health ministry is trying to ensure that disruptions from Monday's earthquake do not prevent people from accessing vital medicine. The ministry has issued a notice to prefectural governments and other entities saying such people should be allowed to get their medicine even if they have no prescription.

The ministry says the procedure applies to cases where the damage from the quake makes it difficult to reach a medical institution for a consultation.

Officials say people will be allowed to get medicine if pharmacists can contact their doctor by phone or other means to confirm the details of their prescription.

The ministry also says if doctors cannot be contacted, people can get their medicines if it is clear from their medication record book or drug packaging that their medicines are for a stable chronic illness. It adds that the prescription details must be confirmed by doctors later.