According to a news source, pharmaceutical companies that sell biological medicines in France were surprised when the government recently introduced a measure  that would allow pharmacists to substitute biosimilar drugs, making it the first country in Europe  to do so. While it  will apply only when patients begin a new course of treatment and will not  apply to the 40 percent of prescriptions that are filled in hospitals, the measure requires a  decree to come into force, a move not expected until some months after a working group gives  non-binding recommenda- tions in June 2014. Affected companies are reportedly now consulting with  government officials, doctors and pharmacists to shape the decree. Economists believe that  substituting biosimilars for medicines that can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars  annually per patient could save France between 500 million euros and 1 billion euros (US$690 million-$1.4 billion) by 2020. See Reuters, April 10, 2014.