SUPERMARKET chain Leclerc has been ordered to stop a series of adverts that accuse pharmacies of over-charging.
The group launched a public campaign in November claiming the prices charged for 4,000 over-the-counter medicines - such as Nurofen and Nicorette - can be up to three times higher in some pharmacies than in others.
It said the government was not keeping to a promise in 2008 to regulate the sale of non-prescription medicines and demanded that "our pharmacists have the right to sell over-the-counter medicines at Leclerc prices".
Independent pharmacists' union Udgpo, which represents 7,500 pharmacies around France, took legal action over the price comparison claims.
A court in Colmar (Haut-Rhin) has ordered the supermarket and hypermarket giant to pay €100,000 in damages to the union.
Lerclerc is banned from repeating the price comparisons in the ads and on its website and faces a fine of €10,000 a day if it ignores this.
The group said it would appeal against the ruling. It said the ad campaign about healthcare costs was a matter of public interest and the supermarket's aim was to better inform consumers of the prices.
Leclerc has 134 pharmacies inside its shops, but apart from basic food supplements and diet products, they are not allowed to sell drugs without a prescription.
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Photo: Marc Planard