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Chemists may offer simple medicines without a doctor

Chemists may be allowed to deliver some medicines without a doctor’s prescription.

MPs have passed an amendment allowing this in the early stages of a new health bill. The idea was presented by an MP who is an emergency doctor.

It would let pharmacists give prescription drugs, under certain conditions, to ease ailments such as cys­titis, tonsillitis or conjunctivitis.

A decision is expected this summer. A previous attempt to bring in the change was rejected after hostility from doctors who said chemists were not qualified to make medical decisions.

The move would be after extra training and in the context of an information link with the patient’s GP. If passed, it could help in areas which lack doctors.

Carine Wolf-Thal, a Rouen chemist and president of the Ordre des Pharmaciens, said: “I hope doctors and pharmacists will continue the work already undertaken for a rapid implementation of this measure.”

She would not comment further as progress was at a delicate stage. Previously she said that “in case of a small emergency, it is often difficult for people to have access to a solution, except to go to A&E, when a doctor is not available.”

She added: “In real life, it happens that pharmacists deliver without a prescription.

“It is precisely to regulate these practices and facilitate access to care that we would be delighted to see this amendment come into being.”

There are 74,043 pharmacists in France, two-thirds of which work in the 22,000 chemists’ shops. The rest work in research, hospitals or industry.

Pharmacists have undergone six years of study in specialised universities plus, for hospitals, four years extra of experience.

All pharmacies are obliged to take part in services de garde et d’urgence and one in an area will always be open. Your chemist, and often mairie, should have a sign showing details.

From next winter all pharmacists will be able to give the flu jab, a role previously reserved to doctors or nurses.

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