Asthma experts form new partnership to halve European asthma deaths

Asthma experts from across Europe are uniting as part of a new partnership launched this week.

Asthma experts from across Europe are uniting as part of a new partnership launched this week to tackle Europe’s high asthma prevalence and death rates.

The European Asthma Research and Innovation partnership (EARIP) aims to reduce asthma deaths in the continent by 25% within 10 years and by 50% within 20 years. The partnership, which is co-ordinated by leading patient charity Asthma UK, also aims to halve hospital admission rates, speed up the discovery of new treatments and improve self-management.

It is estimated that 30 million people in Europe are currently living with asthma, and 15,000 people die each year from asthma attacks in the continent. Fourteen EU countries feature in the top 20 worst countries globally for asthma prevalence in adults.

ELF Chair, Monica Fletcher, said: “Asthma affects people of all ages in all countries. We have seen from new data highlighted in the European Lung White Book that asthma rates are staggeringly high in Europe. The EARIP project aims to combat this challenge. By bringing together expertise from across Europe, we can create a ‘road map’ to define and prioritise what is needed to reduce asthma deaths and hospitalisations in all EU member states to ensure that we improve the lives of people living with this condition.”

Dr Samantha Walker, Deputy Chief Executive of Asthma UK, said: “Asthma outcomes in Europe are unacceptably poor. Between now and 2020, if no major breakthroughs in research and the management of asthma are made, about 120,000 people in Europe will die as a result of asthma attacks, and 4 million will be hospitalised.

“We now have the opportunity to change this. By coordinating asthma priorities and activities at a pan-European level, this partnership will channel the collective expertise of world-leading asthma experts, bringing it together around a common goal.”

Funded by the European Commission, EARIP seeks to tackle the barriers currently preventing the reduction of Europe’s asthma burden. These barriers include:

  • Inadequate organisation of healthcare services
  • Increasing environmental factors such as air pollution
  • Limited availability of drugs to treat severe asthma
  • Lack of knowledge regarding causes, mechanisms and prevention of asthma
  • Lack of training and education for clinicians
  • Tendency to treat asthma in acute settings rather than ensuring effective self-management
  • Complacency and poor adherence to treatment

The partnership will identify key gaps in asthma knowledge and aims to address these by pioneering an integrated approach to research, development and innovation across Europe, ranging from basic cell science to improving healthcare systems. Ultimately the aim is to ensure that the outcomes from knowledge-based asthma research will quickly result in an improved quality of life for people with asthma.

Over the next three years, the partnership will bring together asthma experts from research institutes, non-profit bodies and businesses across Europe, including policymakers, researchers, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies and people with asthma. Together, they will create a ‘road map’ to define and prioritise what is needed to reduce asthma deaths and hospitalisations in all EU member states.

Professor Nikos Papadopoulos, President of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, said: “This funding is a catalyst for change in the field of asthma research; it sets the stage for galvanising expertise and fast-tracking a solution to the immense social and economic burden of asthma in Europe.”

Professor Papadopoulos, who also represents the University of Athens, one of the 12 lead partners in EARIP, added: “We are also laying the foundation for Europe to become more globally competitive in the development of research and innovation to successfully tackle asthma across the world.”

Partners and stakeholders in the EARIP project kicked off their planned series of summits and prioritisation debates at this week’s European Respiratory Society Annual Congress.

Notes to Editors

What is EARIP?

EARIP is a co-ordinated and integrated approach to asthma research, development and innovation across Europe ranging from basic cell science to improving healthcare systems.

It will bring together asthma experts from across Europe to define what’s needed to reduce asthma deaths and hospitalisations in all EU member states.

It is supported by the European Commission and will run over a three year period.

Activities include workshops, prioritisation exercises, consensus strategies and the development and publication of a set of recommendations about what is needed.

These will result in a comprehensive ‘roadmap’ of asthma priorities in Europe that can be used by clinicians, researchers, industry, patient groups to lobby for change and to persuade EU funding policy makers to invest in asthma.

Why asthma?

  • no effective treatments for about 5% of people with asthma, and we have had few new breakthrough drug treatments.
  • treatments are not always appropriate (because the phenotypes of asthma are not well characterised and drugs/treatment regimens may be inappropriate for many, amongst several reasons).
  • patient adherence to treatments is significantly poor for a large sub-section of people with asthma.
  • 500,000 hospitalisations for the 5-7% of people with ‘severe asthma’ in Europe each year.
  • poor health, and millions of days off work, for the 30,000,000 people in Europe who have asthma.
  • 15,000 deaths a year in Europe from asthma attacks.
  • asthma starts early and affects people during the active part of their life, imposing longer and greater strain on individuals and economics than many other chronic diseases which primarily are problems of ageing.

EARIP Partners

  • Asthma UK – Dr Samantha Walker
  • Imperial College, UK – Prof. Sebastian Johnston
  • Karolinska Institutet, Sweden – Prof. Sven-Erik Dahlen
  • European Federation of Asthma and Allergy Associations (EFA) – Dr Susanna Palkonen
  • Novartis – Dr Chris Compton
  • Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Netherlands – Dr Marielle Pijnenberg
  • European Lung Foundation – Dr Pippa Powell
  • GlaxoSmithKline – Dr David Myles
  • University of Lodz, Poland – Dr Maciej Kupczyk
  • Swiss Institute of Asthma & Allergy Research – Prof. Cezmi Akdis,
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece – Dr Nikos Papadopoulos
  • University of Southampton, UK – Prof. Ratko Djukanovic
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