Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a major burden on healthcare budgets in Europe

A new report from the European Brain Council reveals poor diagnosis and treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome which makes it one of the most costly neurological disorders in Europe.

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Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a serious neurological disorder which has a high prevalence but is very often not recognized or even diagnosed as a disease, leading to delayed diagnosis and/or wrong treatment. This, in turn, brings unnecessary suffering to patients, a significant cost to healthcare budgets in Europe and costs to wider society. Frequently, RLS is not diagnosed due to lack of knowledge among healthcare professionals, and patients are left with no option but to suffer. Equally concerning is the frequency of misdiagnosis, where patients are prescribed incorrect and inappropriate therapies.

The Value of Treatment for Brain Disorders in Europe study, conducted by the European Brain Council (EBC), the European Academy of Neurology (EAN), the European RLS Patients Alliance (EARLS) and the European RLS Study Group (EURLSSG), in consultation with a team of researchers and experts from the London School of Economics, discovered that the treatment gap for RLS is very high. The total cost of poor diagnosis and treatment of RLS in the countries analysed (Germany, Italy and France) is significantly higher than the combined cost of Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Epilepsy in these countries.

The report highlights the importance of early detection and intervention, and the urgent need for proper education of healthcare professionals about RLS. The report also highlights the need for research into the cause(s) of RLS and for new treatment pathways to be identified to reduce patient suffering. 

The European Union spends just over three euro per year, per patient, on brain research, and access to treatment in many member states is getting worse, not better. According to an analysis carried on in 2010, neurological and mental disorders affect 165 million Europeans, with an overall cost of about €800 billion per ar. The Value of Treatment for Brain disorders in Europe study covered a range of mental and neurological disorders among which Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Headache, Multiple Sclerosis, Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, Stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Epilepsy and Restless Legs Syndrome, and highlighted the full cost of unmet healthcare needs, recommending new investment in research, earlier detections and interventions and better treatment for neurological disorders.

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CREDITS: EARLS, EURLSSG & EAN