An essential part of saving money is to always request the generic drug using the phrase “the cheapest generic, pleaseWhich can save you up to 50%.
If you don’t know the French equivalent of a British remedy, show the pharmacist an empty package and ask them to search for a French product with the same active ingredient: “Is there a product in France that contains the same molecule, please? ”
Very often an equivalent is quickly found and if it is not in stock they can usually pick it up for the next morning.
A UK standby server is not available – TCP, which, ironically, is made in France. There is no single French remedy with so many uses, so you will have to buy individual products.
Common items that you will find in a French medicine box
Standard items in a French medicine box often include:
- Mopralpro antacid tablets
- Spasfon tabs that dissolve on the tongue for colic, spasmodic pain
- Exomuc powders for stuffy nose and sinuses
- Smecta powders for diarrhea (can also be used to treat dogs)
- Osmo soft gel and Biafine cream for burns and sunburns
- Eosin red liquid to clean superficial cuts and scratches
- Betadine to disinfect large wounds (this is what they use in French hospitals, and can also be used for animals)
- Homeoplasmin homeopathic cream for dry / rough / irritated skin
- The range of Apaisyl creams for insect bites, infected wounds and fungal infections. (BactéoApaisyl is a good substitute for Savlon)
Most pharmacists also stock a range of homeopathic remedies, veterinary medicines (often cheaper than at the vet) and Bach flowers, whether or not they are exposed. You just have to ask.
Some pharmacies are ‘herbalism‘which means that they also sell alternative herbal remedies, herbal teas etc.
Pharmacists are also trained to give basic first aid advice, which is free and can avoid a doctor’s visit.
For those picking mushrooms, they will also identify mushrooms / poisonous mushrooms so you can always check wild mushrooms before eating them.
French equivalents of popular British medicines
Here are some French equivalents that replace British remedies.
Beechams = Fervex or Dolirhume
Beechams, Lemsip and Night Nurse are not available, but there are many other medicines with the same active ingredients, namely paracetamol and a decongestant. Fervex the powders can be dissolved in hot or cold water. Or try Dolirhume tablets and sipping hot honey and lemon.
Benyline = Codoliprane
Benylin cough syrups are not available under this brand, but there is a wide range of highly effective cough syrups available, drowsy or not, for dry, wet or mixed coughs, with or without other cold symptoms. Using a Codoliprane tablet at bedtime is also effective for nighttime coughs.
Bonjela = Hyalugel
Bonjela for canker sores and sore gums can be replaced with Hyalugel or a variety of other oral gels. Ulcers are usually called canker sores.
Calpol = Dafalgan or Doliprane
Calpol (paracetamol for children) is replaced by Dafalgan (from one month to 12 years old) which contains paracetamol and is available in different formats. (The syrup has a nice caramel flavor.) After 12 years, people use ‘Doliprane‘- it is the most famous brand of paracetamol. Ask for the generic to save money.
corsodyle = Eludrilperio
Corsodyl antibacterial and disinfectant mouthwash is not available but mouthwash Eludrilperio, sold in pharmacies, contains the same active ingredient, chlorhexidine.
Cream E45 = Nivea or Caudalie hand cream
E45 cream is not sold, but Nivea hand cream in flat round boxes is available even in supermarkets. Drugstores offer many treatments for rough, sore or dry skin – just show your dry hands and you will be overwhelmed with advice and products. To try Caudalie produced with red wine and chocolate.
Nurofen = Nurofen
Nurofen (contains “Ibuprofen”) is sold under the same name, but the generic costs at least half the price.
Nicorette = Nicorette
Nicorette is sold with the same name. Various drugs to help you quit smoking are reimbursed if prescribed by your French general practitioner, who can also recommend other aids.
Optrex = Optone
Optrex is not available because it contains the antibiotic chloramphenicol. Optone however, there is a range of eye drops suitable for irritated, dry and tired eyes. If you have an eye infection requiring antibiotic therapy, before making an appointment with the general practitioner, ask the pharmacist on duty for advice.
Solpadeine (various) = Doliprane or Codoliprane
Solpadeine Headache contains paracetamol and caffeine, so can be replaced by “Doliprane“And a cup of coffee, Solpadeine Plus contains paracetamol, codeine and caffeine, which can be replaced by”Codoliprane”And a coffee.
Solpadeine contains paracetamol and codeine but no caffeine which can be replaced by “Codoliprane», And Solpadeine Migraine contains ibuprofen and codeine, which is only available with a prescription in France, so you should consult your doctor.
Sudafed = Dafalgan
Sudafed has been withdrawn and the most commonly used remedies are Dafalgan and saline nasal washes, specially formulated for each age.
Zovirax = HerpApaisyl
Zovirax for cold sores (sore) is known as Activir but may be replaced by HerpApaisyl.
Dettol, Dulcolax, Gaviscon, Rennie, Scholl, Strepsils, and Vicks remedies are available just like in the UK. Olbas Oil is available on Amazon.fr
Please note that this article is intended to help readers navigate a French pharmacy. It does not replace the advice of a qualified professional and should not be used as such.