How has the covid epidemic impacted our overall health? The prescriptions of the French in 2020 and 2021 reflect the depressions, the decline in physical activity and the social distancing that characterized the period of health crisis, reveals a report from the scientific interest group Epi-Phare published on May 27.

This document brings together the data of so-called city drugs, delivered on prescription in pharmacies between March 16, 2020 – the first day of the first confinement – and April 25, 2021. The scientists compared the prescriptions made during this period with those expected in s’ based on the prescriptions of the two previous years.

Anxiolytics on the rise

First result: the ordinances clearly reflect the deterioration in the mental health of the French, since “the use of anxiolytic and hypnotic drugs but also more recently antidepressants continues to increase “, reports Epi-Phare. An increase which was further amplified in 2021, with increases in deliveries of + 5% to 13% depending on the drug.

Overall, between March 2020 and April 2021, “there is an increase of +1.9 million dispensations of antidepressants, + 440,000 dispensations of antipsychotics, +3.4 million dispensations of anxiolytics and +1.4 million dispensations of hypnotics compared to the expected“notes the report.

Less sport, more cholesterol

Other prescriptions on the rise: those of anti-diabetics and anti-cholesterol. This increase mainly concerns “initiation of treatment in previously untreated patients“: 14.7% more starts of treatment for hypertension, 11% of antidiabetics and 24% of statins against cholesterol.
How to explain this trend? Through “the deleterious effects on health of the constrained decrease in physical activity“, imposed by the confinements and closures of sports halls.

Childhood vaccinations on the decline

Epi-Phare then became interested in the vaccination of minors, in “strong deficit “ over this period. This concerns penta and hexavalent vaccines for infants (diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, whooping cough, meningitis and hepatitis B), MMR vaccines (measles mumps and rubella) but also vaccines against papillomavirus (HPV).

Much less antibiotics

However, two good pieces of news emerge from this report. The first concerns a “dramatic drop“the prescription of antibiotics. Because social distancing and wearing a mask have also had a positive effect on the circulation of pathogenic bacteria.

The second concerns screening for cancers and serious diseases, which are on the rise again after a “collapse“during the first confinement. Since mid-2020, prescriptions for preparations for colonoscopy, MRI and CT procedures have thus been increasing, even if”the backlog accumulated last year has not been made good“, finally laments Epi-Phare.