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Prescription Drugs in France

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Boca Raton, Florida
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Prescription Drugs in France

When I visited Greece a few years back, I was able to stock up on my prescription drugs (i.e. blood pressure, HRT) very cheaply and also w/o a written prescription. I am wondering if the same holds true in France. Having aged since then, I am also on Plavix (blood thinner) and Meloxicam for osteoarthritis. Anyone have any experience buying Rx drugs in Paris?

Paris, France
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1. Re: Prescription Drugs in France

Rules are different in every country. While medicine is almost always cheaper in Europe, it is open to speculation whether or not you will be allowed to buy it. Showing a US prescription would certainly help.

Boca Raton, Florida
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2. Re: Prescription Drugs in France

Thanks! Bringing along new prescriptions won't be a problem.

Paris, France
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3. Re: Prescription Drugs in France

Be sure that scientific molecules names are written on the prescription. Commercial brand names can be very different between different markets.

Alsace, France
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4. Re: Prescription Drugs in France

I think you are not going to find it easy to buy your prescription drugs over here, and certainly not as cheaply as in the US.

Having lived in France for over 20 years, it is almost impossible to buy prescription medicines without a French prescription (ordonnance) and the amount of over-the-counter medicines is very limited ... especially when compared to the US or the UK.

I would not count on getting any prescribed medication here at a 'reasonable price' ... the French health service requires pharmacists to supply generic drugs if the patient wants to claim reimbursement under the social security system. Name-brand drugs have to be paid for UNLESS the doctor writing the prescription specifies that it must be that named drug only. As you may not find the same named drugs here, I think you may only be able to buy generics.

Personally, I'd make sure you have enough medication to cover your trip plus a margin ... and buy other useful souvenirs of your stay ... just my two cents.

Paris, France
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5. Re: Prescription Drugs in France

Somebody might differ with me on this, but in my experience, French pharmacists would not fill prescriptions written by a US doctor. We had to schedule a doctor's visit, including a brief history and exam, before the physician would write the Rx - and they weren't anything earth-shaking, no narcotics, etc. We called SOS Medecins for a house call, though you could go to a hospital emergency room.

That said, prescriptions here are much cheaper than in the US, and many medicines are available over-the-counter. If it's an emergency migraine or a very bad cough, for example, the pharmacist has the authority to dispense something with a little codeine. Not sure about the drugs you require.

Alsace, France
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6. Re: Prescription Drugs in France

"That said, prescriptions here are much cheaper than in the US, and many medicines are available over-the-counter. "

Wow Patty, Paris sounds different from Alsace, where neurofen costs approx 2.10 € per packet and much less in the UK!! And we are very limited in what we can get off-prescription (but it is getting better!!!!).

I agree wholeheartedly that non-French prescriptions are unlikely to be dispensed.

Paris, France
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7. Re: Prescription Drugs in France

Actually, as an unofficial part of my job, I had to wheedle quite a few prescription drugs out of French pharmacies without a prescription. A bad fax from the Middle East was usually sufficient to convince most pharmacists as long as it wasn't opium or morphine. When our closest pharmacy would not serve us, it only took one or two other visits to another place to get what was requested. Yes, I understand that this is both distressing and dangerous, but there are news reports on French television all the time which show how it is not hard at all to get prescription drugs without a prescription.

Anyway, the mediations are hugely cheaper than in the US, as you can determine from this government report: ita.doc.gov/td/chemicals/drugpricingstudy.pdf

If you look at page 52, for example, you will see what various countries around the world charge for drugs that cost $1 in the United States.

If you need a French prescription, you can go to any medical center in Paris without making an appointment, and a GP will charge you 23€ for the visit -- and write prescriptions for whatever you need.

Los Angeles
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8. Re: Prescription Drugs in France

Plavix should be generic (Clopidogrel Bisulfate) but here's the catch. You'll need a prescription from a French doctor and there's a good reason. People on Plavix, as I'm sure you know, need to have periodic checks of clotting factors, and the doctor who monitors those results should write the prescription. Therefore, I doubt any reputable French doctor would write the script. This is one best obtained at home. And, it probably won't be any cheaper by the time you go to a French doctor (who would certainly want, I would think, to check your clotting factors before prescribing any more). If you tell the doctor you are already on the drug, they're just going to ask for the charts that give your medical picture up until that point, so that they know what's typical for your blood work. No good doctor would do otherwise.

I can't find any evidence that Meloxicam is in widespread use in Europe, although similar drugs are. But your doctor has you on that specific drug for a reason.

Widely used heart/blood pressure medications like inderal (propanalol) are so cheap at home, I can't imagine them being much cheaper (or worth the hassle of getting a prescription) in France. But again, since it is a cardiac drug and you are under another doctor's care, unless it was an emergency use, any ordinary doctor is going to ask you to forward or bring your prior records.

The US State Department advises that the drugs you bring into the country should be in original containers and have proper prescriptions (meaning, prescriptions recognized as prescriptions in the U.S.)

Now, having said all that, there is nothing to prevent you from trying to fill a U.S. prescription in a French pharmacy, but I think you'll find that PattyInParis's experience is the one you want to read. It's probably not going to happen. The U.S. is not that different from other nations; most have a prescription system that's similar - and you know what it's like in the U.S. You need a local prescription. There are good reasons.

I can't imagine thinking it a "bargain" to spend time on this during a precious vacation in France. Using Kerouac's data (page 52) I'd like to point out that a Canadian pharmacy would be a better option for you (mail order). My dad's doctor cooperates fully with the Canadian pharmacy and they definitely accept U.S. prescriptions although recently, they have stiffened their regulations to the point where it is getting to be way more of a hassle than it once was (they won't take telephone prescriptions any more). But, if your doctor has a FAX and is a good doctor, knowing you need cheaper drugs, they'll help you out with faxing an RX to Canada.

Canada is virtually as low-priced as France, using K2's provided data.

9. Re: Prescription Drugs in France

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