More and more people taking medicines

01/09/2003 10:00

More than one third of the Dutch population took some sort of prescribed medication in 2002. One third also used over-the-counter medicines. Older people take more prescribed medicines, while non-prescribed medicines are more popular among the younger segments of the population.

Trend in medicine use

Trend in medicine use

Number of users increasing

The percentage of the population taking medicines increased continually between 1984 and 2002. In 2002 just over 35 out of 100 of the population took both prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.

There were more users of prescribed than non-prescribed medicines in 1984. However, as the number of people using over the counter medicines grew faster than those taking prescribed medication, the numbers drew level around 2000.

Users of prescribed medication: type of medicine

Users of prescribed medication: type of medicine

Prescribed medicine

One in three people on prescribed medication in 2002 took medicines for cardiovascular disease, one in ten took sleeping pills or sedatives, one in ten medication for stomach and bowel complaints, and another one in ten painkillers and antipyretics.

Users of non-prescribed medicines: type of medicine

Users of non-prescribed medicines: type of medicine

Over-the-counter medicines

Three-quarters of people who bought non-prescribed medicines took painkillers and antipyretics such as aspirin. One in ten took remedies for coughs and colds, one in eight restoratives such as vitamin and mineral supplements, and 7 percent homeopathic remedies.

Users of medicines by age, 2002

Users of medicines by age, 2002

Older people more likely to use prescribed medicine

In general, consumption of medicines increases as people grow older. The percentage of users also rises with age: four out over five people aged over 75 take prescribed medication.

For non-prescribed medicine the picture is different; here use is concentrated in the younger age groups. Nearly half of people aged 18-24 years take over-the-counter remedies. After this age, the use of non-prescribed medicines decreases.

Ferdy Otten