REFUNDS on hundreds of medicines could be cut back to 25 per cent next year to help plug France's social security funding deficit.
Patients' groups say they have learnt of plans to apply the reduced rate to products that are currently reimbursed at 35 per cent.
The government had initially announced in September that it was planning to cut the percentage rate from 35 to 30.
The revised proposals have been sent to Assurance Maladie officials, who will put it to a vote, but the final decision rests with the government.
In the French healthcare system, there are four different rates of refund by the state: 100, 65, 35 and 15 per cent. The remainder is made up by top-up health insurers (mutuelles) or paid by the patient.
The level of reimbursement applied to each medicine is based on an assessment by the Haute Autorité de Santé of its medical efficacy.
Refund rates have already been cut this year on products considered to have little medical impact, including indigestion tablets and antiviral creams.
The lowest bracket, 15 per cent, was introduced in April and several hundred medicines, previously refunded at 35 per cent, were demoted to this new category.