French pharmacies are awe-inspiring places filled with enough imaginative little packages to keep your eyes busy until it’s your time to talk to the chemist. A French pharmacy is a place you’ll visit often for drugs prescriptions, for pieces of info or just to see how your pharmacist is doing. Your pharmacist not only knows your pet’s name but actually leaves your pet to get into the pharmacy ( renseignement téléphonique geoallo ).
Let’s see the differences between pharmacies in France and the United States.
Pharmacies in France
Pharmacies in France are amazing. Beside all the products that France is famous for, such as cheese and wine, the pharmacy ranks right up there too. Maybe it’s because of the low prices or the excellent service or maybe all the rare products just astonish everyone who visits the stores.
French pharmacies are about selling drugs and personal health and care products and nothing more.
In the U.S., we usually say we’re going to the pharmacy to get a few stuff like tissues , 2 cans of Red bull and maybe some gum. But you wouldn’t find any of these in French pharmacies, which are smaller than U.S. chain drug stores and carry just medicines and personal products. There’s no welcoming card section or kids’ dolls or sweetie. There are only medicines. There are pharmacies that include skin care products like makeup and sunscreen and other non-rx items but it is absolute sure that you will not find a magazine or some chips in there.
In France you do not have to wait in order to take your drugs, like in the U.S.
In France, you go into the store with your prescription, you give it to the chemist, and in just a few minutes you return to your home with the required medication given to you by your doctor. The exception here would be a special research that they have to make, but in most cases, the medicines are ready to be taken by you. They’ll ask for your social security card to procedure the refund, explain how the drugs work and see if you have any questions and you’ll be on your way. There’s no waiting time because you get the whole package of medication even if it contains more pills than your treatment requires, and your name, address and other personal details aren’t typed up on a label like they would be for the prescriptions in America. The times haven’t changed in 60 years because the pharmacists in France still write the instructions right on the box with a pen.
French pharmacies business hours are way more different than in the U.S.
Most of the pharmacies in France are open from about 9 o clock in the morning until noon. Then there is a lunch break at 2 or 2:30 p.m. and they reopen and stay open until 6 p.m. French pharmacies are not open 24/7.
There’s a so called ‘’pharmacie de garde’’ in each city and village all over France that has be open 24 hours. All the pharmacies are required to be 24 hours open in a rotation so there is no need to be the same store every time. Pharmacie de garde is for after midnight emergency cases.
The pharmacies in France are not in a chain system
There are no French equals of American drug store chains in France and this is due to the fact that French pharmacies are all privately owned. All pharmacies have a bright green pharmacy cross in front that easily classifies them as a pharmacy. That’s the same everywhere.
The medicines are cheap
People in France are actually happy to pay for their own medicines, which are in most cases 60% cheaper than the cost of the same ones in the U.S. Prescription medicine prices are controlled by the government so they’re the same price at every drugstore. For medicines like Maalox, each pharmacist can set his own price. Drops for pink eye, for example, cost nearly $100 in the America for a little tube and the exact same thing cost me about $15, which is a difference of almost 70% of that.
French pharmacist are educated in Pharmacology
It’s very common to be friendly with your pharmacist and to have a small conversation with him or her. When picking up a prescription, you might talk about your health issues, get advice, get questions answered that you forgot to ask your own doctor/dentist ( dentiste de garde dimanche ). In France, everyone who works in the pharmacy is trained — the minimum being préparateur en pharmacie — and is able to do more than just ring you up or check records in a computer. In the US, sometimes you’ll pick up a prescription and the person who helps you is a cashier and not trained in pharmacology so you’ll have to wait if you have a medicine-specific question.
Also, all the over-the-counter medicines are usually behind the counter so forget about discreetly grabbing diarrhea medication and heading to the self-checkout. OTC medicines like Advil are only available at pharmacies and not the supermarket and you have to talk to someone to get said medicine. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing unless you have a loud talking pharmacist or a huge line behind you.
It is beyond that obvious that there are a lot of differences between the French pharmacies and the U.S. ones and this have to do with the difference in the health care system between those countries in general. So the next time you will be in one of those areas you will know how to get served.