OTC and Prescription meds in France

Old May 23rd, 2008, 05:38 PM
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OTC and Prescription meds in France

Does anyone know of any common over-the-counter medications available in the US that require a prescription in France? I'm planning ahead.

I ran into this problem with benedryl in Italy a few years ago and would like to avoid similar complications.

Thanks
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 06:57 PM
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Usually it's the other way around. In France you can get all kinds of meds that are prescription only here in the States. I can't think of one that's OTC in the USA and a prescription in France...but then, I've never taken prescription meds except for the very occasional antibiotic.

What meds are you thinking of?

And if you do have a real issue with this while in France, it costs about 20-30 euro to visit a doctor and get a prescription for whatever you need. French doctors love prescriptions. And the meds are inexpensive.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 07:31 PM
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I agree w/ StCirq. But some OTC meds may not be on open shelves. You might have to ask the chemist/pharmacist to get it for you from behind the counter.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 04:30 AM
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Remember to write down the generic name of the medicine you are taking (e.g. ibuprofen) rather than the branded name (e.g. nurofen). Also beware that formulations and dosage will often differ between countries.
Unless you intend on staying long-term in France, I'd take all the medicines I think I may need during the trip, instead of hunting down OTC medicines in France with all the language, legal and commercial differences.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 05:15 AM
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Get your doctor in the US to write a prescription for these products you want. Then, if in France it needs a prescription will accept the US version.

I have taken Spanish prescriptions to France and they were accepted without any complaint.

This will also give the Pharmacy guy something to work which would supply the generic.

The previous posters mentioned taking the medicines when you leave the US is a good thought.

Blackduff
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Old May 24th, 2008, 05:19 AM
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I would also check benadryl in France. It is not available OTC in Australia, and is not a commonly prescribed drug hers. This may be the case in other countries.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 05:41 AM
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I agree with Blackstuff. Just take a copy of your US prescription with you to France. French pharmacists have a great deal of discretion in dispensing medicines, even without a presciption where one is officially needed, but any piece of paper will make it even more likely. If they refuse, go to another. As I've said previously, ask your doctor to write down the generic name of the medicine.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 06:02 AM
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I agree take what you think you will need. My experience is it is so much easier in France to get what I might need an RX for in the US. I always have stocked up on my 2 anti-histamines when we are there. What I save on a year's supply practically pays for my plane fare.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 06:26 AM
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There are some things you may not find easily available in France, from my experience, even if OTC in the US. For example, Pepto Bismol is not sold there, as far as I know (nor any brands that are the exact same substance, the French don't like it or ban it for some reason, as I recall). They'll have some other things that are meant for diarrhea, but not really the same thing, bismuth (which I use to settle a stomach, as well as the usual use).

I also had trouble trying to find some OTC eyedrops once in Aix-en-Provence -- just something like Visine. They didn't have anything (and I speak French and was in a pharmacie, that wasn't the problem) that was quite the same thing. They did sell me some very expensive other kind of eyedrops that were OTC, but they really weren't the same thing as the common OTC kind we get in the US.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 06:59 AM
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We don't have Pepto Bismul in Oz, and I couldn't get it in Bali in January.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 07:22 AM
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Thanks for all the excellent suggestions.

We're staying in Paris for a month later this year. We'll take all the prescription meds we need, and "backup" orders that can be filled if we run out. (great idea!)

I'm trying to minimize the amount of "stuff" I take with me. My plan is to leave home anything I can buy in Paris.

So I'll broaden my question and ask -- what would you leave home that can be easily obtained in Paris? (blowdryer, shampoo et al, toothpaste....)
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Old May 24th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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Pepto-Bismol is not available at all in France; if you use that to keep your tummy calm, bring some along (it's not illegal to bring it it, you just can't buy it anywhere).

In France, even OTC medication is sold only in pharmacies. You have to buy everything at the pharmacy.

Some prescription medication in the USA is available OTC in France. This especially includes things like APAP+Codeine migraine remedies (like Tylenol 2 plus codeine), and cough medicines that contain small amounts of codeine.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 09:33 AM
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Not only is medicine only sold in pharmacies, you must ask the pharmacy employees for any and all products that are considered to be medicine. Absolutely nothing is out on self-service shelves, so you even have to ask for aspirin.

The law may change regarding this in about a year, though.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 10:17 AM
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Benadryl and its generic equivalent are available OTC in the U.S.--at least, they are where I live in California. I get the generic (25mg or 50mg) at the local Kaiser pharmacy.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 07:06 PM
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I am leaving for Paris on September 1 for a 3 month visit. I have spent a lot of time trying to find out how I can legally get prescriptions filled that are controlled substances (pain medications). My physician can only write the prescription for 30 days and I am finding it extremely difficult to find a way to get my meds sent to me. I called FedEx to get an account for them to send it from my pharmacist who has 3 one month supplies already in his possession. FedEx told me that I needed a license for prescriptions and imports and I have called DEA, the French Embassy and the Minister of Medications in Paris and no one has any idea how to obtain this documentation for me. I have not been able to concentrate on this pleasurable trip because I have been so plagued by this situation. I have decided to go to an English speaking physician to get prescriptions written for my pain medications. I suppose this is really the only way to deal with my situation.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 07:35 PM
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christina_P - if the pharmacist already has 3 one month supplies ready, why not just pick them up and take then with you?
Or perhaps you meant that he has the prescriptions from your physician but has not yet dispensed the medications. Your prescription benefit plan most likely limits dispensing to a 30 day supply, but you can contact the customer service line (or ask the pharmacy staff to do so) of your insurance company and request a waiver known as a "vacation fill." They can put an authorization in the system to allow the dispensing of a larger than standard amount.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 10:21 PM
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I realize this comment is very general, but when you really need something French pharmacists seem helpful, effective, and able to do almost anything, from telling you what you need to selling you what you need to referring you to a nearby physician who will then let the pharmacist sell you what you need.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 11:59 PM
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That depends on the medicine - some that are legal in the US are not allowed in Europe. Some are slightly different which could affect their working.
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Old Aug 16th, 2013, 05:48 AM
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They don't count out the prescription pills in France like they do in the U.S. For chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, everything comes in boxes of 30 or 90. For a temporary problem, such as one requiring antibiotics, the box will only contain about 10 or 14 pills based on the recommended length of treatment.
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Old Aug 16th, 2013, 06:23 AM
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christina_p,

You don't say what the meds are but you can't assume the exact equivalent will be available in France. So, if it is imperative you have the exact drugs, Seamus' advice is the way to go.

If for some reason you can't get three months' supply before you leave, bring all the relevant information with you including a copy of your most recent prescription. When you get to France, your hotel or a pharmacy should be able to refer you to an English-speaking doctor if you need one who speaks English.

Tylenol/acetomeniphen (paracetamol here) and ibuprofen are available OTC in various strengths. A low dose of combined paracetamol and codeine can be purchased OTC, higher strengths require a prescription (ordonnance in French). Dalfagan is a common, relatively inexpensive brand.
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