French pharmacies could sell some drugs without prescription in future

French pharmacies could sell some drugs without prescription in future
The strict laws in France about not being able to buy prescription drugs without a doctor's consent may soon be relaxed.

If plans by La République En Marche (LREM) deputy Thomas Mesnier proceed, you may soon be able to buy prescription drugs without an actual prescription in France.

The sale of over the counter medication in France is strictly controlled.

Pharmacies are the only places you can buy even simple products such as paracetamol or ibuprofen and you require a prescription for any codeine products, for example. But it might soon be easier to get common medicines without having to pay for a visit to your doctor.

Mesnier is tabling an amendment to the Health Bill to this effect in March.

This is actually the second time this change has been proposed. It was rejected by the National Assembly last October. But the bill is now likely to be adopted as it has the support of the LREM majority.

As Mesnier explained, it would be a question of “defining a list of basic care for which the pharmacist could provide the initial treatment.

“We could include treatment for sore throats and early stage urinary tract infections, which often require patients to go to the doctor but can be simply treated. And seasonal allergies, for which patients take the same medication every year.”

This proposal has, however, provoked loud outrage from some doctors, who see it as a denigration of their profession.

“We are not improving the health system by taking skills away from physicians and giving them to professionals who do not have their training. There comes a time when things have to stop.”, said the president of the National Order of Physicians, Patrick Bouet.

The debates look set to be lively in March.


Member comments

  1. Overuse of anti-biotics (even first aid box “staples” like Neosporin) are major contributers to drug-resistant strains of bacteria & flesh-eating bugs like MRSA. I’m a Brit & whilst we can buy many OTC (over the counter) drugs, & not just at pharmacies in the UK, you cannot buy anti-biotics of any kind. I would welcome the relaxing of the monopoly that pharmacies & doctors have on the pharma industry in France & thus the lowering of price (c’mon France indeed re cold & cough remedies, regular pain-killers like paracetamol, ibuprofen etc), but anti-biotics is a big NON in my book! We should be actively discouraging & restricting their usage much more than we are now even. I find it to be a real pain (& expensive) to have to make a doc’s appt just to get a prescription for something as simple as cystitis or similar – especially when you need it immediately! (“hellooooo” internet…!)

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