Paracetamol Parade: The Dutch are Turning Even Further Away From Strong Medications

It’s widely accepted that going to a doctor in the Netherlands will leave you with more paracetamol than prescriptions. Now, the latest annual figures reveal that the Dutch are increasingly turning the other cheek to heavy medication. 

Drug use only increased half a a percentage point, the same increase as the population itself. The Foundation for Pharmaceutical Key Figures (SFK) say this means that despite a predictied 1.5% increase for the year, pill use has remained about the same.

This growth is “certainly the lowest of this decade and probably of this century,” SFK Manager Jeroen Lukaart of the SFK told AD. Between 2003 and 2013 growth of pill use hovered around 4-8 percent. In recent years it decreased to between 1 and 3 percent.

So why are the Dutch so adverse to the use of medication? Experts believe it’s because people are becoming more skeptical over whether the benefits of heavy meds outweigh the side-effects.


The decrease can be called ‘deprescribing,’ Sint Maartenkliniek pharmacist and researcher Bart van den Bemt told AD. He explains that people are looking critically at whether medicines are really needed.

For example, sleeping pills are now known to not work after long periods of use, and increase the risk of falling. “Then the remedy is worse than the disease,” said van den Bemt.

There are other reasons why pill use may be on the decline. There may be an increased attention to healthy eating and exercise. People may also be becoming more skeptical of medication altogether.

Well, at least if you can’t get any of the good meds, the Netherlands lets you self-medicate, right? Are you using less medicine? Were unsuccessful in getting a prescription from your doctor? Let us know in the comments below!

Samantha Dixon
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.


  1. I read the report but I do not subscribe to the same philosophy. Maybe it is the expat in me. If I am sick and I go to a doctor, I want to have something to feel better. Not a pat on the back and advice to stick it out.


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