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The City of Lights and their Pharmacies

The City of Lights and their Pharmacies

The next time you are in France pay a visit to their local Pharmacy it is so much more….From Mezza’s Health Expert, Emily Durham.

French Pharmacies

Written by Emily Durham, MS

   We can all agree that pharmacies have changed dramatically over the last thirty years. My love for pharmacy started way before choosing a career in the pharmacy industry. When I was younger growing up on the southside of Atlanta, we would frequent a small independent pharmacy that four generations of my family used. Although rare across suburban areas of Atlanta and the country, the pharmacy is still family-owned and features a working soda fountain1.  Naturally, when planning our trip to Paris in October we researched French pharmacies.

  There are some major differences in how people receive medications in France versus the United States. The most foreign difference to me (…as a US consumer, healthcare delivery and pharmacy professional), French citizens pay ZERO dollars for highly effective drugs (Ex. Insulin, Asthma Inhalers, etc.)2. For example,insulin-dependent Medicare patients’ out of pocket spending has, “..nearly doubled between 2007 and 2016 (from $324 to $588; an increase of 81%)” 3. France has continuously outperformed every country as one of the top health care systems in the world 4, and their drugs are priced significantly (A LOT!) lower than in the United States.

  Another key difference witnessed while visiting a Parisian pharmacy was the wait time for a prescription.  Wait times are one of the biggest consumer complaints about pharmacy in the US, aside from the price of prescription drugs. The patient walked in, handed the pharmacist a prescription, pharmacist walked to the back and wrote the directions on the box. Less than three minutes…that’s it! In the United States, we have many more steps to complete before your prescription is complete.

  Surprisingly there are pharmacies on every street in Paris, and each of them has it’s own unique character. While traveling we visited one of the most famous pharmacies, City Pharma5 in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. One common theme of all French pharmacies (including City Pharma) is the abundance of beauty products. You will not find 10,000 different cold and flu products lining the shelves.

My top beauty purchases from City Pharma, which all are priced significantly lower in-person than what you can purchase online6 :

  1. Bioderma, Atoderm Hand Cream
  2. La Roche Posay, Pure Vitamin C Serum (AMAZING STUFF!!)
  3. Caudalie, Shower Gel

If you are looking for great food, culture, and beauty products: book your trip to France!


  1. Chapman Drugs (Hapeville, GA):
  2. French Healthcare System Overview:
  3. How much does Medicare spend on insulin?:
  4. WHO French Report Card:
  5. City Pharma blog:
  6. French Pharmacy Online:


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