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Is a foreign prescription valid in France?

We look at how prescriptions from EU and non-EU countries are treated in French pharmacies 

The pharmacist must use their professional judgement when dealing with foreign prescriptions Pic: oleschwander / Shutterstock

Reader question: Is it possible to show a foreign prescription in a pharmacy in France? We will be here in our second home for several weeks and I did not bring enough medication.

It depends which country you are coming from. A prescription delivered by a doctor in one EU country is valid in all EU countries.

A pharmacist cannot refuse to provide the medication, unless they have legitimate doubts as to the authenticity or intelligibility of the prescription, or the capacity of the healthcare professional who wrote it. 

However, the medicine might not be available or might have another name.

Read more: How long are medicine prescriptions valid in France?

Pharmacist will use their judgement

A pharmacist can also provide medication based on a prescription from a doctor from outside the EU, but this is not an obligation. 

The pharmacist will have to decide whether or not the prescription seems authentic, said Philippe Besset, president of the Fédération des Syndicats Pharmaceutiques de France.

“There is no database or other way of telling if they are a real doctor, apart from experience and expertise,” he said.

“In any case, the products cannot be reimbursed, even if the patient lives in France and has healthcare rights here.”

He added: “In 30 years in Occitanie, where there are lots of British people, for example, I have never been presented with an English prescription.”

Read more: How are you reimbursed for your medicines in France?

French doctor can rewrite prescription

If you are visiting France and require medicine, it is better to have the prescription re-written by a French doctor, Mr Besset said. 

A GP visit will cost €25. This may be 70% reimbursed if you have an Ehic or Ghic card and the prescription cannot reasonably wait until you are home.

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