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About Medwatcher Japan

1. Organization

An NGO launched in 1997

Medwatcher Japan (the official Japanese name: "Yakugai Ombudsperson"; "yakugai" means drug-induced disaster) is an NGO that was launched in 1997 to monitor and prevent drug-induced disasters.


The organization is comprised of 18 members (pharmacists, attorneys, physicians, consumer advocates, a thalidomide victim, a father of labor-inducing drug victim and a sociology professor).
All members have other regular jobs and volunteer their services free-of-charge. The office is located in Shinjuku (Tokyo).

Tie-up groups

Organizations known as "Tie-up groups" assist Medwatcher Japan and are located in Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Fukuoka.
Anybody who supports the activities of Medwatcher Japan in preventing drug-induced disasters and who pays membership fee can join a tie-up group.
There are presently over 300 members. Tie-up group members participate with Medwatcher Japan members in nationwide surveys and are also involved individually in education and lecture program activities.


The financing of Medwatcher Japan is supported by contributions. Primary contributions come from a foundation established by tie-up groups and the plaintiff attorneys group of Tokyo HIV litigation.
No contributions are accepted from pharmaceutical and medical devices companies.

2. Activities

Main activities

The main activities of Medwatcher Japan are to submit requests, open letters and comments to governmental agencies and pharmaceutical companies. Presently, approximately 200 requests, open letters and comments are available on our website in Japanese. The website summarizes 3-5 articles each month from major magazines in Japan and abroad with Medwatcher Japan's comments, and invites readers’ comments (of course, citations are always listed).

Other activities

Other activities include the followings:

  1. nationwide Past Issues
  2. to make presentations at Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare committees and Diet Health and Welfare committees
  3. lobbyist activities
  4. to file law suits based on the freedom-of-information act
  5. to hold symposia

Issues (various drug products and regulatory system issues)

Medwatcher Japan deals with issues relating to individual drugs and to pharmaceutical regulations.
Problems with nearly fifty different drug products have been handled, including Noscal (troglitazon), Arava (leflunomide), Iressa (gefinitib), SSRIs, benzodiazepine type drugs, Triludan (terfenadine), Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Pradaxa (dabigatran), Chantix(Varenicline), HPV vaccines.
More than thirty regulatory system issues have been dealt with, including disclosure of clinical trial data, clinical trial registration, conflicts of interest and direct to consumer advertisements.

Guest speakers from abroad in symposia

Medwatcher Japan has invited guest speakers from abroad to participate in symposia, such as Julian Crane (New Zealand; Fenoterol), Amanda Frost (US; freedom of information), Charles Medawar (UK; SSRIs), David Healy (UK; drug evaluation and "marketing"), Christophe Kopp(France; conflict of interest), Peter Lurie(US; conflict of interest), Andrew Herxheimer and Louise Brinth.

Cooperation with Other Organizations

Medwatcher Japan supports the activities of the Japan Confederation of Drug-Induced victims (a confederation of organizations of drug-induced disasters in Japan, including victims of Thalidomide, SMON, blood products-induced AIDS and Iressa) and cosponsors programs on the prevention of drug-induced disasters.
Medwatcher Japan has also been building a cooperative relationship with attorney liaisons, consisting of lawyers who handle class action lawsuits relating to drug-induced disasters in Japan (this group was founded in 2004).
Medwatcher Japan also cooperates closely with "The Informed Prescriber" (TIP) and Non Profit Organization Japan Institute of Pharmacovigilance,"Kusuri-no-Check" (NPOJIP), which join the International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB).