The European Union spends just over three euro a year per patient on research into brain disorders – while levels of access to treatment in many Member States are becoming worse, not better, a medical conference organised by the European Brain Council (EBC) heard today.
The EBC unveiled a new report, “The Value of Treatment for Brain Disorders”, which highlights the need for more investment into research on neurological and mental diseases and the wide disparities between and within countries relating to treatments, detection and intervention.
More than 165 million Europeans are living with brain disorders such as epilepsy, Alzheimer`s disease, depression and multiple sclerosis; the burden on national health budgets is staggering – rising to more than 800 billion euro a year in direct and indirect costs such as lost earnings and lost tax revenues.
Commenting on the new report, EBC President Professor David Nutt said: “Up to eight out of ten people affected by brain disorders remain untreated, even though effective treatments exist in many cases. Inequality of access to treatment is a growing problem and knows no borders.”
“We must address the treatment gap. Differentiated access to healthcare should no longer exist in 21st century Europe – European citizens have a right to the treatment they need,” added Ann Little, President of the European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA).
EBC says the European Commission has significantly increased funding for research on brain diseases, with 5.3 billion euro ear-marked between 2007 and 2017. This sum, shared between the 165 million sufferers in Europe, works out at just 2 euro and 48 cents per person per year. In terms of the number of sufferers, this is still a small sum – less than the price of a cup of coffee,” added Little.
The report highlights the need for early intervention and detection. Timely intervention brings measurable health gains such as improved survival rates, reduced complications and disability, better quality of life and lower treatment costs.
In addition to epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, the VoT report also assesses the full scale of unmet healthcare needs in Europe regarding schizophrenia, headache, stroke, Parkinson`s disease, restless legs syndrome (RSL) and normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). The report includes case studies based on data sets from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia.
EBC’s key recommendations:
- Invest in more basic and clinical & translational neuroscientific research
- Increase brain disease awareness, patient empowerment and training for health care providers at all levels of care
- Address prevention and timely intervention as a priority based on needs
- Address health care services delivery and support clear patient pathways
- Foster seamless care through validated models of care & tools implementation, legislation and incentives