Free access “more than” self-service

There, self-service medicines land in pharmacies. Purpose of the operation: involve the French in taking charge of their health and lower prices for patients promoted "responsible consumers". But what about this evolution? The point with .

Lower Prices and Patient Accountability

It is now done: pharmacists have the right to place certain non-refundable medicines in front of their counter. There are 217 medicines available for daily use (fever, headaches, colds, coughs, smoking cessation), 12 phytotherapy medicines and 15 homeopathic medicines. A list that could soon be extended.

The limits of self-service

First observation: this evolution is a priori without direct link with the fight against the hole of the Security. All these medicines were already sold without medical prescription and therefore not reimbursed. What will change is that the patient will have free access to the boxes without having to ask for it from his pharmacist .; At the cash register, the pharmacist will have the duty to advise and register the drugs dispensed. He may then, if necessary, give a more adequate treatment or redirect to a doctor. The number of boxes purchased is, of course, limited. All these conditions make it more accurate to speak of "direct access" rather than "self-service". And fortunately because medicines are not products like the others. Their use remains supervised by the pharmacist to avoid misuse. Finally, it should be noted that this is left up to each pharmacist. It is therefore not certain that you will find these products tomorrow in your favorite pharmacy. But why such a change?

One of the main reasons given by the Government is that free access to these products will promote competition. "When a product is sold in front of the counter, you can more easily compare prices," said Minister of Health, Roselyne Bachelot. Prices are now available to the consumer and no longer hidden behind the counter and only advertised when settling. By comparing the labels, the "patient-client" should energize the commercial policy of pharmacies. Self-service would also serve to empower a patient with regard to his therapeutic management. "Patients are better informed, better able to decide to take care of their benign pathologies without systematically resorting to a doctor." Last reason cited: free time for doctors. Since the pharmacist plays the role of counselor to the patient, he may substitute himself for the practitioner for all the little evils of "bobology". A transfer of the physician to the pharmacist, which could be an element of response to the problem of medical demography, physicians being insufficient in several regions. The catch is that when they are prescribed, these drugs are reimbursed, which is not the case for self-medication ... And that's not the only downside.

In spite of the advantages supposedly highlighted by the health authorities, there are voices rising against this small revolution: First, is the expected drop in prices really going to take place? Today, there is no guarantee: some pharmacists argue that this competition already exists, and that there are currently no significant price changes. Otherwise, according to "UFC Que Choisir", the Anadvil that will pass the counter is currently selling 2,48 € on average, against 1,88 € for the Advil, its equivalent remained behind ... Will they actually play the game? At the beginning of the year, they signed a charter committing "to practice a pricing policy better adapted to the new realities of the market responding to the needs of the patient". In addition, there is often among the pharmacy staff a single pharmacist "graduated" for several sellers, who are not health professionals. Even if this situation does not appear with the free access of medicines, does it not become more worrying? How to ensure that the advice of a seller will be the most suitable? Will posters and information sheets placed in the vicinity of the sales area be sufficient? Does this experiment not constitute an additional step towards the distribution of medicines in supermarkets? Shortly after the attack of the monopoly of pharmacists on drugs by a large retailer, this measure frightens some despite the assurances of the Minister of Health and former pharmacist Roselyne Bachelot

In order to answer these questions and to compare the forecasts with the real changes in this free access, a price observatory was created. What is now only "experimentation" will also be evaluated by the Ministry of Health.

Complete list of medicines concerned on we