THE DANGERS of taking too many over-the-counter medicines and not properly following doctors’ guidance is highlighted in a major new French TV and press advertising campaign.
The health ministry campaign aims to remind the French that medicines are not everyday consumer goods and that care must be taken to use them correctly.
It comes as new figures show a “modest, but notable” increase in the number of drugs sold without a prescription in French pharmacies.
A separate study by government health agency Drees in 2010 found the French consume 40% more medicine than the Germans, Spanish or Italians – at an average of 48 boxes a year.
The campaign slogan is: “A medicine is not a product like any other.” It comes with a reminder that each drug has a specific purpose and should not be used to treat other ailments.
It also makes it clear to French consumers that: “Seeing your doctor does not automatically mean you will get a prescription.”
Warning over ‘generic’ drugs
DOCTORS have voiced concern about the effectiveness of some of the non-brand-name medicines sold by pharmacies as a cheaper alternative to well-known drugs.
The Assurance Maladie recommends ‘generic’ medicines as a way of reducing the state healthcare cost burden. They contain the same active ingredient but their make-up is not completely identical to the brand-name version.
A new report by the Académie de Médecine claims there are some conditions where generic drugs are not suitable – including epilepsy and blood pressure problems.
Report author Professor Charles-Joël Menkès said: “For some medicines, substituting with a generic is no problem at all. But for those with a narrow therapeutic index [where the concentration of the drug in the blood is high], it can be more difficult.” Sales of generic medicines fell for the first time last year, by about three per cent.