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Patients in France may get end of life drug at home

Christian Fernsby ▼ | February 13, 2020
A powerful sedative used in palliative end of life care is to be available on prescription in all pharmacies in France within four months.
Health in France   Midazolam
Until now, the sedative Midazolam has only been available for use in hospitals. Under the new rules, GPs will be able to prescribe it through normal pharmacies, to allow patients to receive end of life care at home, with less pain, instead of being admitted to hospital.

Topics: Patient France drug

The health ministry has said that the drug will only be prescribed under strict conditions, and only with a prescription from a mobile GP team or a hospital service. The prescription will also require a second opinion from another doctor.

Some GPs have said this latter rule will put unnecessarily complex barriers in place.

Dr Jean Paul Hamon, president of doctors' union La Fédération des Médecins de France told public news service FranceInfo: "The doctor, the nurse, the patient, and the patient's family...that is who is concerned, no one else. They shouldn't impose someone else who is 'supposed to know more' et cetera, and add complexity to a situation that is particularly heavy and distressing to take care of."

But other GPs have said this extra protection is needed.

Dr Pierre Robin, GP in Marseille, said: "It's not easy. You can get it wrong. You might have demands that do not correspond to the real situation."

Pharmacists have welcomed the move.

Dr Gilles Bonnefond, president of pharmacist union l’Union des Syndicats de Pharmaciens d'Officine, said: “We have a medicine that is suitable, with fewer side effects [and that is] easier to use, under very specific conditions. We are going to be helping many town pharmacy teams, and patients.”