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Living in the Languedoc:    The Medical System:    Pharmacies (UK Chemists, US Drugstores)

Pharmacists are health professionals who may be consulted for minor health problems, as well as dispensing medicines prescribed by a physician.
They are responsible for checking prescriptions to ensure that there are no undesirable side effects of medications - important when you consider that most French people are taking at least five different medications at any given time.. The opening hours of pharmacies are the same as those of any other shop: generally from 9 am to noon and from 2 pm to 7 pm. Outside of these hours, certain pharmacies in each area (pharmacies de garde) are open in case of emergency.
As in the UK, pharmacies sell three types of products:
  • Prescription medicines, generally reimbursed by the SÚcuritÚ Sociale. Generic drugs (as opposed to name-brand products) are available in many cases, though they can only be sold by the pharmacists if prescribed by a doctor. (Pharmacists are not currently allowed to substitute a generic product for a brand-name one).
  • Over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin, cough syrup, etc. Some of these drugs may be reimbursable, but only when prescribed by a doctor.
  • Cosmetics and personal care products: shampoos, creams, lotions, etc. These items are not reimbursable. Vaccinations are bought in a pharmacy, but need to be prescribed and administered by a doctor. You can usually find out which pharmacies are open, by going to your local pharmacy and looking in the window, as generally they put up a sign indicating the pharmacies which are open out of normal opening hours.
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