Brain disorder research underfunded

Up to 8 out of 10 people with brain disorders remain untreated
Health data 480 (2)

The European Union spends just over three euros a year per patient on research into brain disorders – while levels of access to treatment in many countries are becoming worse, not better, according to a new report.

Martin Knapp and Michela Tinelli of LSE’s Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU), working with partner institutions, found wide disparities in the treatment of brain disorders, in a project led by the European Brain Council (EBC).

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 enormous – rising to more than 800 billion euros a year in direct and indirect costs such as lost earnings and lost tax revenues.

The report, The Value of Treatment for Brain Disorders, 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.

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.”

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 over 3 euros per person per year.

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 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.

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