More than 75% French-speaking Belgians resorted to self-medication for cold or flu-like symptoms in 2019, which is an increase of six points since 2014.
This emerged from a Solidaris study who sees financial reasons behind this result. Three quarters (75.8%) of single-parent families use self-medication.
The survey was conducted among a thousand people five years after a similar survey on Belgians’ opinion of medication. It highlights an evident distrust of the pharmaceutical industry: 57.7% of respondents (47.2% in 2014) believe pharmaceutical companies sometimes make misleading advertisements or at least hide certain negative effects of their products. In addition, 63% of respondents feel that the government is more attentive to the pharmaceutical industry’s interests than it is to the interests of individuals.
More and more Belgians, and especially from the younger age group, tend to believe there is no difference in therapeutic effect between original and generic medicine (from 55.1% to 61.8%), Solidaris observed.
Another finding of the survey: more than five out of 10 people believe there is excessive use of drugs in our society (six out of 10 in 2014).
Given the survey results, Solidaris calls to “fight against the ‘medicalization of life’ and the commercialization of drugs in Europe and in Belgium”. The Socialist Mutuality also requests that drugs be made more accessible and that the population’s skills for rational self-medication should be strengthened, by improving, for instance, the regulations of publicity for non-prescription drugs or making instructions for medication easier to read and to understand.