Largest decrease in first-time cough medicines

The COVID-19 pandemic not only has a major impact on the care of COVID patients, but also on regular care. Dutch community pharmacies are less likely to provide new medication due to the postponement of doctor visits and treatments. This is what the Pharmaceutical Kengetallen Foundation writes in the Pharmaceutisch Weekblad.

Number of first issues

The SFK compared the number of first releases per drug group (ATC3 level) in the period April to September of this year with the same period in 2019.

The study was limited to prescription medicines from the basic package that are widely used (an average of two thousand first issues per month per group), and where the number of first issues in January was still roughly the same as a year earlier.

Of the drug groups meeting the criteria, 90% show a decrease. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, changed guidelines or reduced availability of resources could also play a role in the decline in first-time issues.

Top 10

After a small peak in March, the group of cough suppressants shows the largest decrease in first issues, on average over 60%. Furthermore, large decreases can be seen in antibiotics, which occupy no less than four places in the top 10. The hygiene measures and fewer social contacts may also lead to fewer (respiratory) infections, or people with these complaints may be less likely to visit a doctor. The first dispensations of drugs for chronic respiratory diseases also initially peaked in March. After that, the number of first issues from April was on average a third lower than a year earlier.

In the drug groups in places two to four, the decrease in first issues was extra large due to the high numbers of first issues in this period in 2019. This high number was due to the reduced availability of various drugs, which forced existing users to switch to a drug. with another active ingredient. Such a switch also counts as the first issue. However, the groups also show a clear decrease compared to the same period in 2017 and 2018.

Pharmaceutical Key Figures Foundation

Author: Stichting Pharmaceutische Kengetallen

The Stichting Pharmaceutische Kengetallen (SFK) collects and analyzes data on drug use in the Netherlands. The SFK has the most extensive, most detailed data collection in this field in the Netherlands. The data collection is realized with the help of more than 95% of the community pharmacies in the Netherlands and includes the usage figures of 15.3 million people.


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