France: Most counter medicine useless or risky

Most medication that you can buy over the counter is either useless or at worst dangerous for your health, a study by a French consumer group has concluded.

France: Most counter medicine useless or risky

Most medicines and tablets to treat sore throats, colds, flu, stomach troubles and various other illnesses are a waste of money, an investigation by 60 Million Consumers has found.

The group looked at 61 medicines that are sold over the counter in France without customers needing a prescription.

On those they tested 28 were considered to have side effects so severe they were classed as dangerous.

Certain medications were found to have effects that actually made things far worse than the original condition they were designed to treat.

There were examples of skin creams which could lead to sleep problems if used regularly and pills to unblock noses containing pseudoephedrine, that carries the risk of causing cardiovascular problems.

Helene Berthelot, a pharmacist who supervised the report also talked of patients being admitted to hospital with intestinal bleeding after taking too many tablets for a sore throat.

The effectiveness of as many as 20 others was either “weak or not proven” although at least they rarely had any undesired effects.

Only 13 medications like the medicine Clarix, Vicks vaporub, Imodiumcaps and Gaviscon were judged to be effective in treating the condition.

“We are in favour of self-medication but only if the user is well informed about side-effects and method of use and the products are perfect,” said Thomas Laurenceau from 60 Million Consumers.

“Over the years we have noticed more and more undesired side effects, it's very worrying.”

The magazine says customers should be really aware of their symptoms before purchasing the medication, normally be in good health and only take then for a limited amount of time.

In France around 2,500 medicines are available over the counter but in many cases customers are badly informed about them and the risks they carry, for examples Strepsils Lidocaine for sore throats and Contalax, for constipation. 

Berthelot says pharmacists can make a lot of money from over the counter medicines, but they should still sell the correct products. 

The list of 28 medicines to be avoid according to 60 Millions Consumers.

Here is the list of 28 drugs “should be avoided,” according to 60 million consumers, because of their unfavorable risk-benefit ratio.
• Cold: Actifed (cold day and night); Nurofen cold; Rhinadvil ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine cold); Actifed cold; Dolirhume (paracetamol and pseudoephedrine); Humexlib (chlorphenamine paracetamol).
• Influenza: Actifed (flu symptoms); Doli (flu symptoms); Fervex (pheniramine adult without sugar).
• Cough: (cough sugar free Bronchokod adults 5%); Exomuc; Fluimucil; Humex (dry cough oxomemazine caramel); Mucomyst; Toplexil without sugar; New Codion.
• Sore throat: Colludol; Drill; Drill tetracaine; Hexaspray; Humex sore throat; Maxilas sore throat; Strepsils Lidocaine; Sterne.
• Diarrhea: Ercéfuryl.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test

France's Europe minister on Monday called for "total transparency" over speculation that one of Italy's victorious Eurovision contestants used cocaine during the song contest, saying it should be grounds for disqualification if confirmed.

French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test
France's entry, Barbara Pravi, said she didn't care whether Måneskin had used drugs or not. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Damiano David, the outlandish vocalist for Italian rockers Måneskin, has agreed to take a drug test after video footage appeared to show him snorting something from a table backstage during Saturday’s contest.

“I think there needs to be no doubt here, and total transparency,” Europe Minister Clement Beaune, who attended the show in Rotterdam, told RMC radio. “If there is a problem, there are penalties… Provisions are made for sanctioning measures, including potential disqualification in case of problems.” 

French hopes had been riding high on singer Barbara Pravi, who was a bookmakers’ favourite to end France’s 44-year Eurovision drought with her
moody ballad “Voila.”

But she was edged out at the last minute by a surge in public votes for Måneskin, with a final tally of 524 to Pravi’s 499.

“I don’t want to be a sore loser,” Beaune said, but “in terms of image, we can’t let people think that such competitions can result in such behaviour.”

The president of France’s public broadcasting group, however, said Monday that France would not contest its second-place finish, no matter the speculation over David’s backstage antics.

“France has absolutely no intention to lodge an appeal,” France Televisions chief Delphine Ernotte told the Parisien newspaper. “The vote was quite clearly in Italy’s favour — it didn’t steal its
victory and that’s what matters,” she said.

Pravi herself said she was not interested in the speculation.

“What’s true is that they were chosen by both the public and the jury. Afterwards, if they use drugs or they put their underwear on backwards or whatever… it’s not my problem,” she told France 2 television on Sunday.