Pharmacies ‘should lose monopoly’

Everyday medicines like painkillers and antiseptic creams could be allowed for sale in supermarkets

20 December 2013

‘SELF-MEDICATION’ products like aspirin, nicotine gum, or cough and indigestion remedies could be allowed for sale in supermarkets and parapharmacy shops.

The French competition authority has ruled that pharmacies should lose their monopoly on certain non-reimbursable medicines, which, it states, could help drive prices down.

It says that at present there is not enough competition between pharmacies, as can be seen in the fact that non-reimbursed medicines can cost four times as much in some pharmacies compared to others.

Experiences of other countries, like Italy, show opening the market up is likely to improve prices for patients, it said.

However, Health Minister Marisol Touraine has reaffirmed her opposition to the idea.

The authority says certain non-reimbursed medicines could be sold in supermarkets if a pharmacist is present, however the minister says they should remain the monopoly of pharmacies. She says this helps to ensure safety and to combat counterfeits.

The authority suggests opening up the supply of so-called ‘self-medication’ items, such as painkillers, antiseptics and burn treatments, throat pastilles and hairloss remedies. It could also apply to certain “intermediate products” like pregnancy testing kits and contact lens fluid.

Maria Brzostowska - Fotolia.com

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