France okays self-serve sale of medicine
Pharmacies in France will soon be allowed to stock many medicines in front of the counter in an effort to ensure competition keeps down prices
PARIS, January 17, 2008 - Pharmacies in France will soon be allowed to
stock many medicines in front of the counter in an effort to ensure
competition keeps down prices, the country's health minister said Thursday.
French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot said in an interview in Le
Parisien that by the second half of this year that pharmacies would be allowed
to stock on shelves accessible to customers many medicines no longer
reimbursed by the French state health insurance system.
"These medicines will be available as self service in pharmacies, but
supported by personalised advice from pharmacists," she was quoted as saying.
The change, which is quite radical for French pharmacies in which
pharmacists dispense even non-prescription medicines, has been driven in part
by price rises as contracts with the French health insurance agency no longer
keep prices down on many treatments.
"When a product is sold in front of the counter you can compare prices more
easily," said Bachelot.
"I expect better information, more choice and a significant reduction in
the retail price of these medications," she added.
Cough medicine, skin treatments and many gastroenterological medications
are initially covered under the initiative, but as many as 3,000 drugs could
eventually find their way in front of pharmacists' counters.
In an interview on RMC radio on Tuesday Bachelot said she opposed allowing
sale of medicines in supermarkets, saying it is "a question of public health
and consumer protection."