FRENCH people consumed an average of 48 boxes of medicines last year, bringing in €27.5bn for the pharmaceutical industry, a new study has found.
The research by drug safety watchdog Afssaps found the French medicine market remained buoyant in 2010, up 1.2% in a year.
However, the growth has slowed down compared to the average 4.8% growth seen in medicine sales each year between 2000 and 2009.
More than 80% of the drugs sold last year had been prescribed by a doctor and were reimbursed by the Assurance Maladie. About a quarter of the medicines sold were generic, non-branded items.
The Afssaps study follows another investigation by consumer group UFC-Que Choisir, published in January, which found doctors were over-prescribing antibiotics.
The group sent patients to visit the doctor claiming symptoms of a sore throat, which they believed would lead to tonsillitis. On average patients were given between two to three different medicines, including corticosteroids that the watchdog says are unsuitable for a sore throat.
According to the group, nine out of 10 consultations result in a prescription for drugs. UFC-Que Choisir said the use of the drugs in France was 40 per cent above most European countries.