Over exerted yourself playing soccer? Got run of the mill joint pain? Maybe you just have a headache and need some relief. One thing that won’t help your headache is navigating the Japanese drugstore without a guide. Luckily, we have taken the time to interview Japanese drug store employees for their expert recommendations for over-the-counter pain medication.
This list is meant to be a guide and should not be taken as medical advice. It is always best to consult with your doctor for the best medication for your body. All of the prices are accurate as of April 2023 and are listed before tax is included.
Summary: This is a generic form of Ibuprofen, similar to the kind seen in the US. The box indicates that it is fast acting. This medication can be used for headaches, period pain, muscle pain, joint pain or for fever reduction and minor swelling. The box indicates that children under the age of 15 should not take this medication.
Dose: 2 pills no more than 3 times per day, with at least 4 hours between doses
Price: ¥598 for 84 pills
Considerations: The box says to avoid fasting while taking this medication
2. Eve Quick DX
Summary: This medication was recommended by drug store staff because it has a fast acting nature and it is gentle on the stomach. This medication contains ibuprofen and magnesium dioxide as main ingredients and the box indicates that the magnesium dioxide aids in quick absorption, while protecting your stomach. This medication can be used to treat headaches, muscle pain, cramps, joint pain, sore throat, ear pain and fever. Eve Quick DX should be taken with water or lukewarm water. Additionally this medication is only for those aged 15 and older.
Dose: 2 tablets 2 times a day, wait at least 6 hours between doses.
Price: ¥1,680 for 40 tablets
Considerations: This medication has a sedative effect.
3. Bufferin Premium DX
Summary: This medication was also highly recommended by drug store staff due to its fast acting nature and strength. The box says that it contains both ibuprofen and acetaminophen, both of which are active pain relieving ingredients. Thus this medication can be used for all kinds of pain management including: headache, ear ache, joint pain, muscle pain, cramps, arthritis pain and fever reduction. Additionally, this medication is only for those aged 15 and up. It should be taken with lukewarm water and not on an empty stomach.
Dose: 2 tablets at a time, up to 2 times a day, with at least 4 hours between doses.
Price: ¥1,080 for 20 tablets
Considerations: Store in a cool and dry place that is out of direct sunlight.
Summary: This is a name brand medication that is found in both the US and the UK, it’s also here in Japan. The front of the box indicates that it does not contain any ingredients that cause drowsiness and that it is easy on the stomach. Additionally, the box mentions that the active ingredient is acetaminophen. This can be used to treat various kinds of pain, such as headaches and period cramps. It also can be used to treat fever when you have a cold or flu. The box also indicates it is best to not take this medication on an empty stomach. This medication is only for those aged 15 and up.
Dose: 1 tablet, up to 3 times per day, with at least 4 hours between doses.
Price: ¥698 (10 tablets) or ¥938 (20 tablets)
Considerations: Store in a cool and dry place, out of direct sunlight
*Price images and works cited:
スギドラッグ employee interview
All photos taken by Lillian Loescher