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    Belgian teenagers consume excessive prescription drugs

    © Belga
    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAI) such as ibuprofen, are consumed by nearly one in five teenagers, and these and other drugs are readily available in pharmacies.
    © Belga

    Mutualités Libres, one of the leading Belgian health insurers, says on Tuesday, on the basis of a study, that Belgian teenagers are consuming excessive medicinal drugs. They are resorting to them in an excessively “everyday” manner, and their consumption of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, is highly significant. The report stresses that people are often, moreover, unaware of the secondary harmful effects of some drugs. 

    In 2014, a survey conducted by the European statistics office, Eurostat, within 30 countries showed that the largest proportion of young consumers (aged 15-24) of such drugs was in Belgium. The point is mentioned by Mutualités Libres.

    The situation did not improve during 2016. The study authors comment that in that year 30% of teenagers took antibiotics for 23 days on average, a “considerable” figure which confirms that their use “is resistant to everything within our country, even to awareness-raising campaigns.”

    Coming in second position nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAI) such as ibuprofen, are consumed by nearly one in five teenagers (19%), although they lead to “numerous, frequent and sometimes dangerous” secondary effects. “It is known for certain that Belgian youngsters are taking NSAI on prescription, for an average of 20 days per year, but their actual usage is probably far more significant. Mutualités Libres is concerned that these powerful drugs are trivialised and freely available, over-the-counter, and are found in almost all family pharmacies.”

    The study authors note that lastly the use of allergy drugs (9.6%) and asthma drugs (7.3%) is “somewhat stable, but remains high.” 

    Mutualités Libres concludes that the analysis of the results “confirms the highly contemporary trend to turn into medical conditions the difficulties of human existence, particularly acute ones during adolescence, and the low tolerance levels in the face of everyday distress.”  Consequently the organisation recommends that as a society we avoid self-medication, and give greater consideration to non-medical treatments.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times