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Health in France

Medical Prescriptions from your French Pharmacist

Tuesday 06 July 2021

New rules allow repeat prescriptions from your French pharmacist without a GP consultation, but only under strict conditions.

Although patients in France are free to use any dispensing chemist they wish, since 31st May it has been possible to declare a nominated pharmacist, in much the same way as you have a nominated GP (médecin traitant).

The nominated pharmacist is called a pharmacien correspondant, who is granted the ability to extend and vary your prescription (ordonnance).

When a patient has major illness the doctor and makes a prescription for three months, the pharmacist may renew it for another three months, up to a maximum of 12 months.

At the present time, doctors are normally only authorised to prescribe for three months at a time, which requires that the patient makes another appointment to obtain renewal of their prescription.

The goal of the measure is to decongest medical practices and save money, but it is opposed by the doctors professional body, who consider it dangerous. Neither are pharmacists being offered increased remuneration to undertake the task, so it remains to be seen how widely it is adopted.

The ability to use your pharmacist in this is has been around for over 10 years, but the systems required to administer it were never put in place.

Nevertheless, if the pharmacist will now have more freedom, the process remains constrained and the level of discretion given to the pharmacist remains strictly controlled. 

In particular:

  • Your GP or consultant will need to agree that your pharmacist can be used in this way, which will need to be stated on the prescription; 
  • The doctor may indicate the limits within which the adjustment of dosages may be made, or limit this possibility to a part of his prescription; 
  • Some medical conditions are off-limits to the process, but they have yet to be decreed;
  • The pharmacist must also inform the attending physician that the dosage has been adapted;
  • The total duration of the prescription and of all renewals carried out by the corresponding pharmacist may not exceed twelve months;
  • Finally, the pharmacist must also belong to the same network of primary care as the GP, such as their health centre. So that might mean that you will need to change the regular chemist that you use. Only those pharmacists with a facility on their premises to offer the patient a private consultation are eligible.

In order to establish a nominated pharmacist you will need to discuss it with your GP or consultant. You are also obliged to notify your CPAM, using a form designed for this purpose.

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