Prices of over-the-counter drugs used by 15-year-old adolescents in Germany and their association with socioeconomic background

Salvatore Italia, Silke B. Wolfenstetter, Irene Brueske, Joachim Heinrich, Dietrich Berdel, Andrea von Berg, Irina Lehmann, Marie Standl, Christina M. Teuner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: In Germany, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are normally reimbursed up to the age of 12 years only. The aim of this study was to analyse prices of over-the-counter drugs used by adolescents in Germany and their association with socioeconomic factors.

Methods: Based on the German GINIplus and LISAplus birth cohorts, data on drug utilization among 15-year-old adolescents (n = 4677) were collected using a self-administered questionnaire. The reported drugs were subdivided into prescription drugs and OTC drugs. The drugs' prices were tracked by the pharmaceutical identification numbers.

Results: Overall, 1499 OTC drugs with clearly identifiable prices were eligible for analysis. Their mean price was (sic)9.75 (95% confidence interval: (sic)9.27-10.22). About 75% of the OTC drugs cost less than (sic)10. Higher mean prices were associated with residing in Munich ((sic)10.74; 95% confidence interval: (sic)9.97-11.52) and with higher paternal education (e.g. highest education level: (sic)10.17; 95% confidence interval: (sic)10.86). Adolescents residing in Munich (in comparison with the less wealthy region of Wesel) and adolescents with higher educated fathers were also significantly more likely to use OTC drugs costing >= (sic)10 or >= (sic)25, respectively.

Conclusions: The price of (sic)10 for non-reimbursable OTC drugs may represent a (psychological) threshold. Higher prices could discourage especially adolescents from a lower socioeconomic background from taking medically advisable but non-reimbursable OTC drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number904
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2017


  • Adolescent
  • Drug utilization
  • Drug prices
  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Over-the-counter drugs

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