Grünenthal press release 2014

Grünenthal and Pain Alliance Europe urge EU and national authorities to improve chronic pain management

Multi-stakeholder views on chronic pain presented in the European Parliament/ Call to Action to fight chronic pain

Aachen/Brussels, April 8, 2014. On the occasion of an exhibition and cocktail reception hosted by Petru Luhan, Member of the European Parliament and winner of the MEP award for Health 2013, a multi-stakeholder platform of civic organizations, patient organizations, academia and industry, call on EU institutions and national authorities to recognize the societal and individual burden of chronic pain. During the exhibition in the European Parliament, the Pain Patient Pathway Recommendations will be presented to policy makers for the first time. The “my pain feels like” box – a psychophysical experiment developed by the Montescano Pain School of Italy – and information on the burden and management of chronic pain are additionally presented. 100 million Europeans including 50 percent of the older population1 in Europe are affected by chronic pain. The estimated healthcare costs and loss in productivity associated with chronic pain equal 3-10% of European economic growth2 . Low awareness of chronic pain as a healthcare problem and the consequences for sufferers and society at large undermine efforts to find solutions.

Call to Action

With the aim of addressing the problems related to chronic pain Pain Alliance Europe (PAE), the pharmaceutical company Grünenthal and other civic organizations have initiated the Pain Patient Pathway recommendations project. The ultimate goal of the recommendations is to reduce the impact of chronic pain in Europe. “We have to join forces in the battle against the devastating social and economic effects of chronic pain in Europe”, states MEP Petru Luhan. The Pain Patient Pathway Recommendations are based on the results of a pan-European survey spanning 18 European countries and carried out by 37 national patients' and civic associations active in the fight against unnecessary pain. The recommendations call for urgent action at national and EU level urging policy makers to prioritize chronic pain as a healthcare problem, raise the awareness for chronic pain, place higher emphasis on chronic pain education for healthcare professionals and stimulate research and data collection to track and better understand the impact of chronic pain on society. “One of the main objectives of our alliance is to raise awareness about the many people across Europe who suffer from chronic pain. In order to do so we need all the help we can get”, states Joop van Griensven, President of PAE.

Like ants crawling under my skin

At the exhibition area, policy makers have the opportunity to experience localized neuropathic pain sensations by putting their forearm in the “My pain feels like…” box, where electrodes are placed on the nerve tracts and simulate a neuropathic pain stimulus. MEP Petru Luhan describes his experience in the “pain box” as follows: “It feels like ants crawling under my skin”. A correct and early diagnosis is crucial to find the right treatment. In 80% of cases, physicians over- or underestimate the level of pain-related impairment of their patients3 . Therefore patients need to describe their symptoms as detailed as possible to their doctor. “If physicians and patients have the same understanding of the impact and the type of pain, treatment can start earlier and the success will be higher. We therefore developed the “My pain feels like…” box together with Professor Roberto Casale from the Montescano Pain School, Italy”, explains Jeanette Hübsch, Associate Director at Grünenthal. The “My pain feels like..” box is part of a new educational website for patients:

Fighting chronic pain

The exhibition in the European Parliament will be closed by a reception including presentations of different perspectives on chronic pain expressed by the policy makers (MEP Petru Luhan), the patients (Joop van Griensven, Pain Alliance Europe), the health professionals (Prof. Giustino Varrassi), the scientists (Prof. Roberto Casale) and the industry (Jeanette Hübsch, Grünenthal). In some countries in Europe, policy makers have started working on innovative ways of tackling chronic pain from a legislative perspective. In particular, the Italian Law 38 of March 15th, 2010, entitled "Measures to ensure access to palliative care and pain therapy", represents a unique example of legislation in the European panorama, because it protects "the right of citizens to have access to palliative care and pain therapy" 4.The multi-stakeholder platform also welcomes that the EU Italian Presidency will put chronic pain for the first time on the EU Council Agenda in 2014.

The political framework of the Pain Patient Pathway Recommendations project is designed by Pain Alliance Europe representing chronic pain patients in Europe. Active Citizenship Network is responsible for the scientific design and contents. The pharmaceutical company Grünenthal GmbH is responsible for financial and non-financial support. “My pain feels like…” has been developed by Grünenthal GmbH in collaboration with the Montescano Pain School, Italy.

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About Pain Alliance Europe (PAE)

PAE, established in 2011, is a Pan-European umbrella organisation of 28 national associations in 15 EU Member States. It represents over 300 000 chronic pain patients.

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About Grünenthal

The Grünenthal Group is an independent, family-owned, international research-based pharmaceutical company headquartered in Aachen, Germany. Building on its unique position in pain treatment, its objective is to become the most patient-centric company and thus to be a leader in therapy innovation. Grünenthal is one of the last five remaining research-oriented pharmaceutical companies with headquarters in Germany which sustainably invests in research and development. Research and development costs amounted to about 27 percent of revenues in 2013. Grünenthal’s research and development strategy concentrates on selected fields of therapy and state-of-the-art technologies. We are intensely focused on discovering new ways to treat pain better and more effectively, with fewer side-effects than current therapies. Altogether, the Grünenthal Group has affiliates in 25 countries worldwide. Grünenthal products are sold in more than 155 countries. Today, approx. 4,400 employees are working for the Grünenthal Group worldwide. In 2013, Grünenthal achieved revenues of €901 mn.

More information:

More information:

1 Breivik H, et al. Survey of chronic pain in Europe: Prevalence, impact on daily life, and treatment. Eur J Pain 2012;16:289-99
2 Gustavsson A, et al. Socio-economic burden of patients with a diagnosis related to chronic pain - Register data of 840,000 Swedish patients. Eur J Pain 2012;16:289–99
3 Müller-Schwefe G., et al (2011). Make a CHANGE: optimising communication and pain management decisions. CMRO 27(2):481–488.
4 Legge 15 marzo 2010, n. 38, "Disposizioni per garantire l'accesso alle cure palliative e alla terapia del dolore"