Use of antiemetics increases with age

In 2019, Dutch community pharmacies provided 360,000 people with an anti-emetic that belongs to the basic package at least once. That is almost as many users as the year before. The use of domperidone by the youngest has almost halved in 2019. The Foundation for Pharmaceutical Key Figures writes this in the Pharmaceutisch Weekblad.


Anti-emetics are medicines that are used for nausea and vomiting. This can have many causes, such as the use of medicines (for example oncolytics for chemotherapy and opioid painkillers), radiotherapy, aftereffects of surgery, motion sickness, migraine and gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying).

They can be divided into three groups. Most used are the motility enhancers. These include metoclopramide and domperidone. Their action is based on the increase of the peristalsis of the stomach and the duodenum following it, thereby promoting gastric emptying.

These drugs were used by a total of 305,000 people in 2019, 15,000 fewer than in 2018. This decrease is probably partly due to the reduced availability of domperidone-containing drugs during part of 2019.

Relatively speaking, however, the decrease was greatest in the age group under 12 years (-45%). This is in line with an amendment – mid-2019 – of the registration text for domperidone by the Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB). The adaptation involves limiting the use of this medicine to children from 12 years of age.

Other means

Ondansetron and granisetron are anti-emetics of the serotonin antagonists type. These resources were used by nearly 90,000 people in 2019. They are registered for use in chemotherapy, radiotherapy and after operations, among other things. The relatively large number of young users of these products is striking.

Use of domperidone by young children will be almost halved by 2019

The group of other anti-emetics includes aprepitant and scopolamine. Aprepitant has similar uses to the serotonin antagonists and can be combined with them.

Scopolamine is registered for motion sickness in the form of a plaster behind the ear. In palliative care, this patch is also used to suppress the production of mucus in the lungs.

The group of other anti-emetics had a total of 15,000 users. Because some people use anti-emetics from different groups in one year, the sum (410,000) of the number of users per group is greater than the above-mentioned number of 360,000.

Share of anti-emetic users in the population by age category and drug group (2019)

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