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US-English to French Pharmacy Cheat Sheet


Differences in French Medications

French pharmacies are very similar to the US in the types of medications that are over-the-counter and drugs that you must have a prescription to purchase. However, there are a few differences:

Medications that are OTC in France, but Require a Prescription in the US - One major difference is that you can purchase medications that contain Codeine over the counter. Examples of these medications include cough syrups and treatments for headaches/migraines.

Medications that are OTC in the US, but Require a Prescription in France - A few medications for upset stomachs that are OTC in the US are banned in France or require a prescription. Pepto-Bismul is actually not sold in France due to a health scare in the '70s. Immodium is only sold in France with a prescription. If you think you might need these products on your vacation, bring some with you from the US.

Names of Common Medications in French - Below is a list of common medications and their corresponding name in French.

Paracetamol = Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol)

Pheniramine = Antihistamine with the same active ingredient as Triaminic in the US

DoliRhume = Pseudoephedrine (e.g., Sudafed) combined with acetaminophen

Prontalgine = OTC analgesic for migraines. Tylenol #2 (with codeine) and caffeine

Ibuprofène = Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin)

Remember: Know the generic names of any medications that you might need on your trip. Using the generic names, a French pharmacist will be able to find an exact match for you.

Author: Cheryl Montgomery

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