During 1978-1987 the annual sale of analgetics increased by 28% to 164 millions defined daily doses (mDDD) per year. Paracetamol changed status to over-the-counter drug by 1.1.1984 as did combinations of acetylicsalicylic acid and codein 14.5.1984. The consumption of paracetamol increased rapidly to 47 mDDD/-year, the mortality steadily decreasing to 0.07 deaths/mDDD in 1986. The consumption of salicylics decreased from 113 to 94 mDDD, of which the salicylic/codein combination constituted an increasing fraction. The mortality of salicylics increased from 0.05 death/mDDD in 1983 to 0.27/mDDD in 1986. Opoids except dextropropoxyphene increased three times during the period, while the risk of fatal poisoning decreased from 10 to 5 deaths/mDDD. Dextropropoxyphene consumption was stable 1978-86 while mortality doubled from 59 to 121 per year. After a National Board of Health initiative, 66 dextropropoxyphene deaths were seen in 1987. Paracetamol mortality was 10 times lower than in England and Wales, where a dextropropoxyphene/paracetamole combination (not available in Denmark) was often involved. From a toxicological point of view over the counter status for combinations of strong and weak analgetics are not desirable.