Use of analgesics in Denmark: A national survey

Alaa Burghle*, Anton Pottegård, Malthe Rasmussen, Belinda Bruun, Jens Roost Hosbjerg, Carina Lundby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


People suffering from pain constitute a sizeable and heterogeneous patient group. Conventional oral analgesics are considered a cheap and safe first-line treatment. These drugs are used on both a regular and ‘as needed’ basis and are often obtained over-the-counter (OTC). We explored patient-reported patterns of use and adverse effects of analgesics in a community pharmacy questionnaire. Eight pharmacies invited persons aged ≥18 years requesting analgesics via prescription or OTC to complete an electronic questionnaire. A total of 2410 participants completed the questionnaire (68% female; 50% ≥ 60 years). Most participants filled a prescription for paracetamol (61%; n = 842) and non-steroidal analgesics (n = 363; 26%). Among OTC users, most obtained paracetamol (61%). Among prescription users, 73% (n = 1114) had their analgesic prescribed for daily use; however, of these only 61% (n = 630) reported using it daily, while 35% (n = 363) reported ‘as needed’ use. Of all prescriptions, 80% (n = 898) were labelled with the standardized indication ‘against pain’. Self-reported indications showed that back pain and muscle/joint pain were the most common indications. Among non-new users of OTC analgesics (n = 841), 17% (n = 141) used their medication daily. Finally, 90% (n = 1658) of all participants reported not experiencing adverse effects. Our findings suggest a need for continuous assessment of analgesic patterns of use after treatment initiation to inform counselling in community pharmacies and elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBasic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)321-327
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Nordic Association for the Publication of BCPT (former Nordic Pharmacological Society). Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • adverse effects
  • analgesics
  • community pharmacy
  • patterns of drug use
  • questionnaire
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nonprescription Drugs/adverse effects
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Adolescent
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Adult
  • Acetaminophen/therapeutic use
  • Analgesics/therapeutic use
  • Pain/drug therapy


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