Inefficient management of chronic pain costs Europe billions of Euros each year

A new report launched in the European Parliament shows inefficiencies in the treatment of chronic pain result in increasing healthcare costs and prolonged patient suffering.[1] Chronic pain costs Europe billions of Euros every year, with national costs ranging from €1.1 billion to nearly €50 billion.2,3 21% of Europeans with chronic pain are unable to work at all as a result of their chronic pain,[4] and of those able to work, 61% said it had impacted directly on their employment status.[4] This new research was commissioned for inclusion in a pan-European consensus report, the Pain Proposal,[1] developed by a range of European experts in the fields of chronic pain, policy and economics in partnership with Pfizer.

The report calls on the European Union (EU) and Member States to tackle chronic pain and provide access to a minimum standard of care for all people with chronic pain.[1] By treating chronic pain with the same seriousness afforded to other major conditions or diseases, the report argues that both cost savings and better outcomes for patients will be delivered for Europe through more efficient pain management.[1]

One in five adults on average suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain in Europe,[5] a figure set to increase with the ageing population.[6] The pathway through the healthcare system for people with chronic pain is often lengthy, convoluted and inefficient.[1,7] In addition, the lack of public awareness of chronic pain and its impact leaves people ill-equipped to seek help or take appropriate action to manage their condition from its onset.[1,4 ] As many as 100 million Europeans with chronic pain want to be an active member of society, but many feel their condition stands in their way.[4]

Speaking at the report's launch, host Member of the European Parliament and Vice Chair of the Disability Intergroup, MEP Cecilia Wikström stated, "This Pain initiative helps to increase awareness of the personal, social and economic impact of chronic pain in Europe, and underlines the need for more efficient health systems to improve patient care."

The report, 'Improving the current and future management of chronic pain' reviews the standards of care in chronic pain across Europe, and the consequences on patients, society and the economy.[1] The conclusions show that access to pain management services is highly inconsistent in Europe, both among and within countries, and that the type of care offered by available pain services differs greatly.[1]

"European economies cannot sustain the current spend on chronic pain - for example welfare costs which may run into millions.[4] There are steps we can take to improve the current system and help people get the recognition, diagnosis and treatment they need for this life-long condition. We believe that by working together to address inefficiencies we can make this goal a reality," commented Professor Giustino Varrassi, President of the European Federation of IASP Chapters (EFIC), Professor and Chairman, Department of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, L'Aquila University, Medical School, Italy.

By making chronic pain a priority, the EU in partnership with Member States can share best practice examples, raise public understanding and awareness and develop national chronic pain strategies in order to use existing resources more efficiently for pain management.

About the Pain Proposal
The Pain Proposal initiative seeks to drive recognition of the personal, social and economic impact of chronic pain on the European population. It aims to highlight issues, inefficiencies and challenges in current chronic pain management and offer recommendations to support better delivery of care, affording greater value for the same resources currently available.

The initiative has been spearheaded by the Pain Proposal Steering Committee, a group of high profile European experts in the fields of chronic pain, policy and economics, who held an initial meeting in January 2010.

In July 2010, the Pain Proposal Steering Committee led a Pain Proposal Executive Committee meeting of 50 experts from 15 countries in Europe in order to generate debate around what steps should be taken to improve chronic pain management. The insights from this meeting fed into a Pain Proposal European Consensus Report – written by medical writers in consultation with the Pain Proposal Steering Committee and Pfizer.

Individual Pain Proposal 'Country Snapshots' were also developed by the Executive Committee members in each participating country.

The Steering and Executive Committees members include patient groups, clinicians, health economists and policy experts.

Pfizer Ltd worked in partnership with both Steering and Executive Committees to support the development of the Pain Proposal initiative. A senior member of the Pfizer pain team sat on the Steering Committee and provided input as an equal partner. Funding for the meetings attended by the Steering and Executive Committees was provided by Pfizer Ltd.

About the research
The research commissioned alongside the Pain Proposal was conducted in August and September 2010 by InSites Consulting in 2,019 people with chronic pain (defined as pain lasting longer than three months) and 1,472 primary care physicians in 15 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom). The research provides an up to date snapshot of how chronic pain is affecting the lives of one in five adult Europeans today.[5]

Chronic pain - the facts
Chronic pain can be experienced in a number of locations in the body; however, the back is the most common.[8] Other common sites include neck, joints and headaches.[4] One in five adult Europeans suffer from chronic pain - that's approximately 129 million people in Europe.[5]

Certain conditions are more commonly associated with chronic pain, such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS).[9]

Pfizer: Working Together for a Healthier World™
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacturing of medicines for people and animals. Our diversified global health care portfolio includes human and animal biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines, as well as nutritional products and many of the world's best-known consumer products. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as the world's leading biopharmaceutical company, we also collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.

1. Improving the current and future management of chronic pain: A European Consensus Report. 2010. Mary Baker, et al.
2. Mantyselka PT et al. Direct and indirect costs of managing patients with musculo-skeletal pain – challenge for healthcare. Eur J Pain 2002;6:141-148.
3. Wenig CM, Schmidt CO, Kohlmann T, Schweikert B. Costs of back pain in Germany. Eur J Pain 2008;13:280-286.
4. InSites Consulting. Pain Proposal Patient Survey. August – September 2010 (Conducted in 2,019 people with chronic pain across 15 European counties. Funded by Pfizer Ltd.)
5. Breivik H, et al. Disease-specific and Generic Instruments for Assessing the Impact of Pain on Function. Eur J Pain 2006;10:287-333.
6. Brennan F, Carr D, Cousins M Pain management: a fundamental right. Anaesth Analg 2007;105:205-21.
7. Dewar AL, Gregg K, White MI, Lander J. Navigating the health care system: perceptions of patients with chronic pain. Chronic diseases in Canada 2009;29:162-168.2006:6(5);591-601.
8. Consumer Health Sciences/Kantar Health. The Pain Market: EU Core Therapeutic Report. National Health and Wellness Survey 2010.
9. PACE. Pain Parallels Report. 2006. PACE is an educational programme initiated and funded by Pfizer Ltd.