Trends in Use of Paracetamol in the Nordic Countries

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2018 Sep;123(3):301-307. doi: 10.1111/bcpt.13003. Epub 2018 Apr 20.


Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is one of the most commonly used analgesics in Europe; however, both the safety and efficacy of paracetamol have recently been questioned. Little is known about cross-national differences in the sales of paracetamol. Using national wholesale statistics and nationwide prescription drug registers, we investigated trends in total and prescribed use of paracetamol in the Nordic countries. The total sales of paracetamol (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification system code: N02BE01) measured as defined daily doses (DDD) per 1000 inhabitants/day, and the sales by prescription (users per 1000 inhabitants/year), increased in the Nordic countries from 2000 to 2015. The total sales were highest in Denmark throughout the period, with 65 DDD per 1000 inhabitants/day and lowest in Iceland with 30 DDD per 1000 inhabitants/day in 2015. The cross-national difference in total sales of paracetamol was smaller in 2015 than in 2000. The proportion of paracetamol (DDD per 1000 inhabitants/day) sold by prescription was also highest in Denmark (78%), compared with 75% in Finland, 69% in Sweden, 61% in Norway and 38% in Iceland. Paracetamol by prescription was more common at older ages and among women. Total and prescribed sales of paracetamol have increased in all five Nordic countries over time. Cross-national differences exist, with highest sales per capita in Denmark throughout the period.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Commerce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Scandinavian and Nordic Countries
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Acetaminophen