Germans are swallowing more and more painkillers

Germans are swallowing more and more painkillers

Prescription of strong painkillers and narcotics increased significantly

The German Pharmaceutical Testing Institute (DAPI) has registered a significant increase in the supply of narcotics. The Germans therefore bought more than eight million narcotics from pharmacies by prescription in 2011 - the majority of which were powerful pain relievers.

Overall, there has been a very worrying trend in the regulation of narcotics in recent years. In particular, the prescription of strong pain relievers has increased significantly, according to the German Pharmaceutical Testing Institute. In 2005, 4.2 million packs were given to members of the statutory health insurance (GKV) by pharmacies, in 2009 there were already 5.7 million packs and in 2011 more than 6.3 million packs. This corresponds to an increase of 50 percent within just six years, reports the Federal Association of German Pharmacist Associations (ABDA), citing the results of the drug testing institute.

Over eight million packs of narcotics issued on prescription The German Medicinal Products Institute used the evaluation of prescription data from the statutory health insurers to determine how many narcotics were given to SHI members in the pharmacies. According to this, the pharmacies handed over around 8.4 million narcotic packs to those insured by law in 2011. Strong pain relievers made up the largest share with 6.3 million packs. However, private prescriptions were expressly not taken into account in the investigation by the drug testing institute, so that the total number of narcotics supplied in Germany is significantly higher than 8.4 million packs.

State trusts pharmacists' sense of responsibility Because the use of narcotics can be associated with considerable side effects and there is a risk of abuse, the supply of appropriate medication to patients is precisely regulated by law. For the pharmacies, these legal requirements require considerable documentation for the storage and supply of narcotics. "In order to protect patients from abuse, the state trusts the pharmacist's particular sense of responsibility," explained the DAPI chairman, Dr. Andreas Kiefer. The pharmacists receive a flat fee of EUR 0.26 for each delivery of an anesthetic for the increased effort, but this often does not even cover the fees that the wholesalers charge the pharmacy, ā€¯continues Kiefer.

General practitioners and internists prescribe most narcotics According to the results of the DAPI, narcotics are prescribed primarily by general practitioners (47 percent of all packs) and internists (17 percent). The prescription of strong painkillers in particular focuses on these two groups of doctors, reports the drug testing institute. 56 percent of pain relievers were prescribed by general practitioners, 22 percent by internists. In general, the recipes on display are only valid for eight days before they expire in order to prevent possible misuse at this point.

Over-the-counter pain relievers should also be critically evaluated. No consideration is given to over-the-counter pain relievers in the evaluation of the drug testing institute. Although these are not classified as narcotics according to the legal requirements, their increased use is also rated extremely critically by experts. It was not without reason that the Committee of Experts at the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) spoke out in June to limit the pack size of over-the-counter pain relievers based on the active ingredients acetylsalicylic acid (ASS), diclofenac, ibuprofen and naproxen. The committee justified its recommendation that careless handling of the medication could lead to considerable health impairments such as liver damage.

Self-therapy with over-the-counter pain relievers For many Germans, self-treatment of headaches, back pain or body aches has long been part of everyday life, which cannot be changed even with smaller packs. However, this form of self-therapy is problematic for several reasons. Although the pain can often be remedied at short notice by the over-the-counter pain reliever, the actual cause of the complaint remains untreated. Since no medical diagnosis is made, even serious illnesses may go undetected longer. In addition, there are the side effects of pain relievers, which in turn can cause considerable health problems if taken regularly. (fp)

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