STADA Health Report 2023: Severe lack in knowledge about painkillers despite frequent use
22. January 2024.
• Half of Europeans (53 percent) take painkillers at least once a month, 1 in 4 at least weekly

• Differences between and possible side effects of common pain relievers like Paracetamol and Ibuprofen unbeknown to many

• STADA Health Report 2023: Representative survey with over 32,000 respondents from 16 European countries

STADA Health Report: Representative online study by Human8 on behalf of STADA.
Research time frame:
March-April 2023, UZB July 2023.
Sample: around 2,000 respondents each from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.
Self-medication with painkillers promises quick relief when it comes to minor aches and pains. Most of them are affordable and easily accessible. But although painkillers should not be taken lightly, Europeans exhibit a concerning lack of knowledge. The STADA Health Report 2023 reveals that nearly half of Europeans are not familiar with key characteristics of ASS/aspirin (47 percent) or paracetamol (42 percent).

Majority of Europeans self-medicate regularly

Over 1 in 2 (53 percent) Europeans rely on painkillers at least once a month – 18 percent among them weekly, and 7 percent even take them daily. Looking more closely at these numbers, women reach for painkillers more frequently than men: 56 percent of them do so at least once a month, compared to only 48 percent of men. The older Europeans are, the less likely they are to rely on painkillers. 53 percent of those over 55 self-medicate less frequently than once a month, compared to only 39 percent of Europeans aged 18 to 24.

In the UK, painkillers are used most often: here, 35 percent of the population take pain relief of some kind at least weekly, followed by Poland (33 percent) and the Netherlands (32 percent). In Portugal, however, only 14 percent are regular users, meaning that they take them weekly or more frequently. The most common complaints Europeans seek to soothe include headaches (63 percent), toothaches (41 percent) or back pain (32 percent). About 1 in 4 (24 percent each) rely on them to ease a cold or joint pain.

Dangerous misconceptions about key characteristics of painkillers

While most Europeans believe they have at least some (63 percent) or even very good health knowledge (25 percent), a surprisingly large number struggle to identify key characteristics of the painkillers they frequently use. Nearly half of Europeans (47 percent) are unaware of the blood-thinning properties of ASS, an ingredient often used to treat headaches, which can impact the efficacy of other medication. Another 42 percent falsely believe paracetamol to have anti-inflammatory attributes. The most notable shortcomings in knowledge exist among young Europeans, who reach for painkillers most often: 66 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds are unaware of the blood-thinning properties of ASS and 60 percent falsely believe paracetamol to be anti-inflammatory.

About STADA Arzneimittel AG
STADA Arzneimittel AG is headquartered in Bad Vilbel, Germany. The company focuses on a three-pillar strategy consisting of generics, specialty pharma and consumer healthcare products. Worldwide, STADA Arzneimittel AG sells its products in approximately 120 countries. In the financial year 2022, STADA achieved group sales of EUR 3,797.2 million and reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of EUR 884.7 million. As of 31 December 2022, STADA employed 13,183 people worldwide.

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