Tokyo dentist nabbed for allegedly selling gargle solutions by pitching coronavirus efficacy

Gargling solutions and other items seized by the Metropolitan Police Department are seen in this photo taken at Kojimachi Police Station in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Nov. 20, 2020. (Mainichi/Takuya Suzuki)

TOKYO — A 58-year-old dentist and three others were arrested for allegedly advertising and selling gargle solutions, which have not been approved as pharmaceutical products, as effective in countering the novel coronavirus.

The Metropolitan Police Department’s life environment division announced on Nov. 20 that it had arrested the four, including dentist Kiyoshi Amano from Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, on suspicion of violating the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Act.

It is conducting further investigations on the assumption that the four suspects sold the solutions to a total of 8,500 people between January and July via the internet and earned around 44 million yen (roughly $423,867).

The suspects are specifically accused of advertising on an online sales site four types of gargle solutions that have not been approved by the minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, including Periotreat, as “highly likely to have a sterilizing effect against the novel coronavirus,” and selling a total of 67 such items to five customers in Tokyo for some 150,000 yen (about $1,450). They are also accused of storing some 4,200 gargle items for the purpose of selling them.

According to the life environment section, Amano has told investigators, “The advertisement did not have contents violating the law. We didn’t sell them as pharmaceutical products.” The other three have also reportedly denied knowing their actions were illegal.

Papers accusing sales site operator Amano Dental, headed by Amano himself, of the same charges were also sent to prosecutors.

The gargle solutions originally cost about 700 yen (about $6.7) per 500-milliliter bottle, but were sold at around 2,000 yen (about $19.3) each on the website from January 2019. They had been advertised to have an effect against influenza, diabetes, esophageal cancer and other diseases, even since before the spread of the coronavirus.

Amano has appeared in newspapers, magazines, TV and other media as a dentist on topics including dental health and bad breath.

(Japanese original by Makoto Kakizaki and Takuya Suzuki, City News Department)

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