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Celebrating 10 years

Economic impact of MS in Europe similar to Australia

2nd October, 2012

Mirroring MSRA’s recent Australian Economic Impact of MS Report, a European study has highlighted the high cost of MS to individuals and society.

MS may not affect as many people as those with other neurological conditions such as stroke, Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease, however, the socioeconomic burden of MS is at least as high. This is largely due to the impact that MS has on the lives of young adults, affecting their ability to work, and the need for support from families, friends, and society as a whole.

The European TRIBUNE study (Treatment Experience and Unmet Needs), examined the direct and indirect costs of MS. The results have been published in a series of papers in Multiple Sclerosis Journal (view abstract here) covering the results from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK. The researchers found that in 2009 the average annual cost of MS ranged from $34,983 to $49,686 per individual depending on the country. In Australia in 2010, the average cost of MS per year was also nearly $49,000, equating to over $1 billion annually for the more than 21,000 Australians living with MS.

As with the Australian figures, the cost of MS for Europeans rises significantly as the disease increases in severity. For those in the early stages of MS, the expenditure on disease modifying drugs represents the greatest proportion of costs. However as disease severity increases, indirect costs such as absence from work, loss of earnings for people with MS and their carers, and formal and informal care represent the majority of costs. The European study also shows that relapses incur high costs, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 per year across the countries. The TRIBUNE study also demonstrated the increased levels of fatigue and reduction in quality of life associated with increasing disease severity.

What both the TRIBUNE study and the Australian Economic Impact of MS report emphasise is that preventing disease progression, managing the symptoms and relapses of MS and supporting people with MS to retain employment is of paramount importance. The benefits will be felt not only in reducing the costs to people with MS and society, but also in improving quality of life for people with MS and their families.

The Australian Economic Impact of MS in 2010 report was completed in September 2011 and can be viewed here.