LEVERKUSEN (dpa-AFX) - German citizens bought significantly fewer painkillers last year. The German Pharmaceutical Industry Association (BPI) reported that 199.5 million non-prescription packages were sold, 10.5 million fewer than in 2022.

In 2022, however, sales had been very high, which was due to the late effects of corona: during the pandemic, people had only caught relatively few colds as they had less contact with other people and were not infected as often - so sales of painkillers were low in the corona years (2020: 193.7 million packaging units; 2021: 192.1 million). When the pandemic was over and people resumed their social contacts, infections also shot up - and the demand for painkillers grew strongly.

BPI Managing Director Anja Klauke described 2022 as an exceptional year due to the high number of infections. "For 2023, it can therefore be said that the sales volume of non-prescription painkillers has returned to the so-called normal level," she said.

Aspirin, which celebrates its 125th anniversary on Wednesday, is one of the best-known painkillers in the world: On March 6, 1899, it was registered under the trade name Aspirin at the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin - after which it became the best-selling painkiller in the world. The acetylsalicylic acid it contains is effective against fever, pain and inflammation as well as preventing heart attacks. There are different versions of aspirin, and the dosage form is also different - whether tablets or powder.

The aspirin business is still important for the agrochemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer, which continues to conduct research into the preparation. It is not known how much turnover the company achieves with the various aspirin products, as it only partially breaks down aspirin sales. However, it is likely to be more than one billion euros per year. Aspirin is produced in Bitterfeld in Saxony-Anhalt and in Lerma in Mexico. Bayer's painkiller competitors include Ratiopharm, which sells paracetamol and ibuprofen./wdw/DP/zb