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Xrayser’s guide to the ‘French model’ of pharmacy

"Prescribed creams are made with Normandy butter and come with a choux pastry applicator"

Xrayser finally reveals why the health secretary is such a fan of the Gallic model, and compares it to other national variants

Health secretary Matt Hancock told C+D this week that he’s in favour of the “French model” of pharmacy which, while delightfully enigmatic, has left commentators wondering exactly what he meant and what other options might be on the table.

So, for the benefit of readers and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), here is the Xrayser guide to pharmacy models:

The French model

Very passionate, very emotional, and all medication is taken rectally as a suppository. If you’re prescribed a cream, it’s made with the best Normandy butter and comes with a delicate choux pastry applicator. Stock shortages are met with a Gallic shrug and when requesting a repeat prescription it doesn’t matter what drug you ask for, provided you pronounce the name correctly.

The Russian model

The state owns the pharmacies, the state owns the wholesalers. European sanctions mean that drugs are in short supply, unless you know the right official to bribe. But whatever you do, don’t sample the perfume tester “Eau de Salisbury”.

The Colombian model

Unlike the English model, there’s never any shortage of drugs. However there are high levels of crime, and you constantly owe money to officials. No matter how much is clawed back from you, they return every month to say you still owe more.

The American model

In the land of opportunity, states have rejected any opportunity for the poor to access basic healthcare, and having eschewed Obamacare there’s definitely no minor ailment schemes. Consequently, their pharmacies are drug stores that look more like a Poundland, selling toys, toiletries and tat.

The Star Trek model

No one is ever seen taking pills, and the only pharmaceuticals in Star Trek are parenteral drugs. Anyone who walks into the sick bay is scanned and then given an injection. Often the doctor is a holographic projection, which suggests that remote supervision is a real threat for Star Trek pharmacies.

The Brexit model

Contract negotiations drag on interminably without ever getting anywhere. Both sides of the negotiations despise each other, while those they are negotiating for try to get on with their everyday lives and ignore the sense of impending doom. No, hang on, that’s…

The English model

Constant state intervention, drug shortages owing to European pressures like the Russian model, along with rising crime and having to pay back ever more money like the Colombian model. The state has rejected minor healthcare for the poor, making them buy drugs for common ailments as in the American model. And, like the Star Trek model, everyone is offered an injection upon entering any pharmacy, which is itself at risk of remote supervision. Meanwhile, PSNC struggles with all the contract negotiations of the Brexit model.

So maybe Matt Hancock is right, and the French model is actually the only one that’s completely different from the English model.

A long-running C+D contributor, the identity of Xrayser remains a mystery, but his irreverent views are known by all. Tweet him @Xrayser


Stephen Walker, Community pharmacist

If the French model is so good why doesn't Mr. Hancock go to France and leave the job of Pharmacy in the UK to those of us who know how to do it. Oh! Sorry, I forgot he's a politician. What can any government do to help? Nothing - absolutely nothing. Get out of our hair and leave us to do our job. And whilst I'm at it, why do we have to have people tell us how to do our job? Why don't we tell them for a change?

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Is there any model in Europe that has led to as many closures as the 'English model' ?

Far more independents in most European countries - far more practising pharmacists able to freely contribute to 'negotiation' or voice their distaste with continous imposition .How much 'service creep' do their governments get away with ?

Very little I suspect.


Ziemo K, Community pharmacist


R A, Community pharmacist

This reminds of the infamous 19th Century UK wholesaler which produced poppies in Afghanistan/India and then shipped them to China via Hong Kong with gunships following behind.  

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

I remember my pharmacy lecturer, circa 1969, saying that The French preferred their medication in the form of suppositories. A good enough reason to stay out of the EU. (Or EEC as it was back then.)

N patel , Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

most succinctly put....if it wasnt so true in real life  i might even laugh


Robert Henson, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Seconded. The article is FAR too close to the truth to be treated as humour.

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