Thyroid UK
84,232 members99,231 posts

T3 Tourism: sourcing doctors in France/ Europe for a legal prescription

Morning All,

We’re off to northern France (Caen area) for a wedding next month, and as I speak French it occured to me that I could book a private appointment with a doctor/ Endocrinologist there to get myself a legit prescription for T3 (my GP being as stubborn as me!).

This I could then get fulfilled immediately in France, and get a repeat prescription to use in future to email to the legal pharmacies in France or Germany that ship to the UK with prescription only.

I was thinking I could take over brand new blood test results - as well as historic printouts - to back up my argument.

Is the French healthcare more open-minded than ours with regard to thyroid treatment?

And how can I be sure to find a T3-sympathetic doctor or Endocrinologist in France/ Europe?

Has anyone explored this kind of medical tourism, and is it even possible?

We’re driving through Switzerland in the summer, so I could also try and find a suitable doctor there (though France would be easier as we’re staying in one area).

If there were a knowledgable thyroid doctor in Calais or Paris for example, I imagine many Brits would make a regular pilgrimage out there for a T3 prescription. Is this happening at all, or is it simply not possible?

Any hints or tips gratefully received,

Abi.

27 Replies
oldestnewest

In Germany thyroid substitution is strictly prescription only. I know for a fact because I buy a variation of my Novothyral (the 75/15 combo) from there.

I'm from Romania and you can basically get Novothyral 100 (100/20) OTC from the pharmacy, for pennies. Doctors are mostly T3 reluctant here too but not all, I've found at least two willingly prescribing combo after hearing me out.

1 like
Reply

Thanks @Cesard I was aware of that, which is why I’m looking for a T3-friendly doctor in France or Switzerland who would be willing to give me a legal prescription.

I’m glad you’ve found a good source for your thyroid meds.

Thanks for your reply 😊

1 like
Reply

It depends very much on the individual doctor. Not many of them know what T3 is, and sometimes that works in your favour, and sometimes it doesn't. I've no idea how you could find out in advance. If you ring for an appointment, you will only speak to the receptionist and I doubt she would have any idea. It's a bit of a lottery, really.

1 like
Reply

Can you not see a UK endocrinologist from Thyroid UK recommended list and get private prescription that way.

Can still order German or French T3 from UK online with private prescription

2 likes
Reply

Thanks SlowDragon, I was thinking of looking into doing this in France rather than the UK because I thought:

A) It might potentially be cheaper than seeing someone privately here

B) That French doctors might be more amenable to prescribing T3 than in the UK

C) The T3 medication itself would be cheaper over there

So, a few reasons that I thought might be worth investigating further; it seems so hit and miss here - and so expensive to go private - that I thought it would be worth looking at alternative options before I head to France in a fortnight.

Reply

No idea what a French consultation costs

France is not keen on T3 and NDT is illegal

T3 prescription here enable purchase from Germany online at £25-£30 for 100 tablets

Reply

Hmm... SlowDragon so you reckon it’s all too similar en France?

Sigh...

Reply

greygoose may know how much an endocrinologist consultation is in France

You would need a recommended endo really.

Reply

Yup, that’s what I was after in the Caen or Calais areas x

Reply

Oh, I don't know, haven't seen one for years. About €75, perhaps? Depends on the endo.

Reply

Did you read what I put above? I live in France. I actually know what it's like.

Reply

I used to live in France and perhaps have an outdated perception of private medical costs (especially as I was working there so had access to French healthcare), but funnily enough €75 is around what I had in mind too - considerably less than the £hundreds I’ve read a private thyroid appointment can cost here in the U.K.

And yes, it all seems like pot-luck finding a T3-sympathetic endocrinologist, just like here...

Reply

Well, not quite like in the UK, because there isn't the cost factor. It's all the same to them if they prescribe T4 or T3, pricewise, and they don't have CCGs telling them not to. It's all down to their individual knowledge and beliefs.

But the price of an appointment would be the same if you had access to French healthcare or not. Because you have to pay on the nose either way. It's just that under the Sécurité Social, you get it refunded. Another advantage of the French system is that you don't have to get referred by your GP. You can just ring up and make an appointment. So, you could try several while you're there!

Reply

That’s how I remembered it greygoose, which is why I I was thinking it might be a good opportunity.

Reply

It might, indeed. But I've no idea where you would find recommendations for an endo.

There's this site here for finding all sorts of doctors, but it doesn't tell you how good they are :

allo-medecins.fr/specialite...

Reply

Endo here is typically £150-£200

1 like
Reply

Exactly SlowDragon - ouchy!

Reply

I sourced some in Paris a couple of years ago; it was in stock. My French is ok but I take an empty box with me (could print out a picture of one) as some chemists do not know what T3 is. A couple of chemists in France did offer to get some for me but I was not in a position to hang around. It seems to be very hit-and-miss. I don’t have a prescription.

Reply

Thanks penny, did you just show them a random box of T3, or was it a U.K. brand?

I currently have a Turkish brand - Tiromel - which might make them think twice. Or not?!

How did you phrase your request for the T3? Did you simply ask for it, say you’d left it at home, or did you use another excuse?

And how much did you manage to get? Wouldn’t 6 months worth be wonderful?!

Apologies for the 20 questions. Thanks in advance for your response!

Abi.

Reply

Hi Abi-Abster, I speak enough French to ask for T3 in a pharmacy. I travel with quite a supply of T3 and so take an empty box with me, Tiromel usually. Nearly all the pharmacies I visited thought that T3 was the same as T4 but when looking it up on their systems they realised what it was. The only pharmacy that had some T3 for me straight away was in Paris and it was Cytomel.

Reply

OK that’s reassuring penny, thank you.

I’m still surprised they gave it to you though since it’s only available on prescription over there too!

Fingers crossed I can manage the same magic...

Reply

OK so penny greygoose and SlowDragon I’m now back from my brief trip to France for a wedding and tried 3 pharmacies in different towns.

> The first pharmacy asked for a prescription but in any case didn’t have any T3/ Liothyronine (brand name Cynomel).

> The second offered me a T3/ T4 combination pill, but we couldn’t work out the maths. And then she remembered she had one last pack of Cynomel and gave it to me, no prescription. It only covered a fortnight’s worth of my T3 needs, but it was a start!

> The third and final pharmacy said that the brand Cynomel is being phased out (is this true?!) and my best bet was just to do a tour of all the pharmacies to try and collect the remaining stock.

Anyway 1 out of 3 isn’t bad, but apart from anything else the results did very much depend on the attitude of the pharmacist and how interested/ willing they were to help and research options. I got a couple of blank and non-‘bovvered’ faces!

I’m back in the summer so I’ll try again then. I now have the Cynomel box to show them directly, which may help things in terms of lack of prescription.

Just thought I’d update you with my progress!

All the best,

Abi.

3 likes
Reply

Thanks for posting your experiences.

Since Sanofi acquired Henning (part of Sanofi Deutschland), I suspect it has been on the cards that they would stop Henning Thybon or Cynomel. However, this is the first time I have read that they might be phasing one of them out.

Definitely needs proper verification - otherwise it just ends up as one of those many rumours.

Reply

Absolutely, re; verification. Not sure how one would go about confirming this, though!

If it is true, would it mean that Thybon will be the French version as well, I wonder?

And there any other brands of T3 available in France (so that I’m prepared for the summer)?

Just for reference, I wish I’d asked the second pharmacist what the name of the combined T3/ T4 drug was that she was offering me. Kicking myself!

1 like
Reply

The combined T3/T4 (not a drug) is Euthyral. Only sold in France, as far as I know it contains 100 mcg T4 and 20 mcg T3.

I have no idea if it's true about Cynomel being phased out. I haven't had my T3 on prescription for about 4 years. There is (was?) only one brand of T3 and one brand of T4 available in France.

Reply

There is also a combined T3/T4 called Prothyrid, made in Germany, only comes in one dosage 10/100, parent pharmacy is Sanofi

1 like
Reply

The French pack of 30 Cynomel pills, each 25mcg - nicely serrated into quarters - cost approx €3.50.

It just goes to emphasise how criminal the Concordia brand’s 6000% price hike was!

However, having been gluten-free for 15+ years I’ve just noticed that Cynomel is made with wheat starch/ gluten.

According to the internet,

“Wheat flour is the grain of wheat ground up with the bran and germ mostly milled off. ... Since gluten (protein) is the sticky/gummy/stretchy part of flour, wheat starch does not have those glutinous properties. Most wheat starches are still have enough trace protein that they wouldn't be 'gluten free'.”

And -

“A number of gluten free foods contain Codex wheat starch, or as sometimes referred to “Gluten-free wheat starch” which has had the gluten washed out to a trace level so it is considered safe for people with coeliac disease. ... This includes products containing Codex wheat starch, which meet this criteria.”

The Cynomel pack particularly mentions ‘gluten’ after ‘wheat starch (amidon de blé in French) in its ingredients. Bugger!

So basically, does this mean there’s no appropriate T3 available in France, or are there other brands?

Reply

You may also like...