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Societal Impact of Pain

A Multi-Stakeholder Platform in Europe

Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) Logo

The Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) is an international, multi-stakeholder platform created as a joint initiative of European Pain Federation EFIC® and Grünenthal with the aim to

  • raise awareness of the relevance of the impact that pain has on our societies, health and economic systems
  • exchange information and sharing best-practices across all Member States of the European Union
  • develop and foster European-wide policy strategies for an improved pain management in Europe (Pain Policy).

The platform provides opportunities for discussion for health care professionals, pain advocacy groups, politicians, insurances, representatives of health authorities, regulators and budget holders.


Chronic, unrelieved pain is a major unsolved healthcare problem in Europe. Chronic pain reflects enormous associated costs on the economy: direct financial costs, such as treatment compensation or pain medicines, indirect costs, due to lost working productivity or absenteeism, as well as societal costs in terms of reduced quality of life for the sufferers and their family and immediate society.

20% of adults – or 80 million Europeans – and 50% of the older population are affected by chronic pain; almost 9% of the EU general population suffers from daily pain. Adequate access to pain management is not yet guaranteed in all EU Member States. Although acute pain may reasonably be considered a symptom of disease or injury, chronic, recurrent or persistent pain is a specific healthcare problem and should be considered as a disease in its own right.1 The magnitude of the chronic pain epidemic in terms of human suffering and costs to society are well known in the field of Pain Medicine. However, this suffering and the associated costs are not  widely appreciated within the larger biomedical community, among makers of social policy and in the public at large.

1 Kleijnen et al.: Reflection process on chronic diseases in the EU – the role of chronic pain. Systematic Literature Report, May 2012.

Grünenthal advocates for new and holistic approach to European pain management

Chronic pain is one of the most costly health issues for industrialized countries and the number one reason for health-related absence from labor and early retirement. Despite its socio-economic impact healthcare systems and policy-makers across Europe oftentimes do not recognize chronic pain as a disease in its own right. This was one of the main outcomes of this year’s symposium on the “Societal Impact of Pain”.

Grünenthal is convinced that the complex nature of pain calls for a holistic effort from prevention, through early diagnosis, to most effective treatment. This effort has to involve the patient from the beginning and has to embrace the multidisciplinary aspects of chronic pain management. In practice this means that policy makers, healthcare professionals, budget holders, and industry urgently need to work together in order to modernize the entire approach.

A need for innovations

Against industry trends addressing sales erosion from block-buster drugs due to the loss of patent protection, Grünenthal has increased its research and development investments and built an organizational framework that effectively drives innovation. Grünenthal invests a sustainable amount of its revenues for research and development: on average 20% each year. In 2014, Grünenthal achieved revenues of € 1.154 bn.

Grünenthal is committed to foster innovation for the improvement of pain management in Europe. Grünenthal is actively involved in a number of public-private partnership initiatives. These are funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 (IMI2) of the EU and the pharmaceutical companies under the umbrella of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). The projects will run for several years and aim to understand and improve treatment of chronic pain, amongst others.