European Parliament discusses the prevention of chronic pain

The second meeting of the Member of Parliament Interest Group on Brain, Mind and Pain took place on June 24th in the European Parliament in Brussels. The theme of the event was ‘Preventing Neurological and Chronic Pain Disorders’. The event was hosted by Romanian centre-left MEP Damian Draghici and organised by the patient organisations European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA)and Pain Alliance Europe (PAE). The lively debate explored why and how to prevent the onset and worsening of pain and brain disorders. Four members of the European Parliament attended the debate: Marian Harkin (Irish), Jeroen Lenaers (Dutch), Seán Kelly (Irish) and Jordi Sebastià (Spanish). The audience of about 60 people gathered stakeholders from the chronic pain and neurological community.

During the event, pain and neurological experts outlined ways to prevent pain and brain disorders. They talked about the importance of lifestyle factors, self-management, and education of the public, employers and health professionals. The debate also focused on prevention of Musculoskeletal Chronic Pain. The role and responsibility of industry in reducing risk factors, accommodating disability and facilitating the restoration of musculoskeletal health to allow early and safe return to work was central in the discussion. “Europe needs to consider physical and work organisational factors in prevention activities” and “Horizon 2020 could be a good opportunity to improve MSD prevention for our workers”.

MEPs Harkin and Lenaers gave an update on the EU strategic framework for Health and Safety at Work, which is currently debated in the European Parliament. As this issue is highly relevant for pain prevention, the MEPs were very receptive to the proposals from the audience.

The next meeting of the Interest Group on “stigma” is taking place on October 14th in the European Parliament. In the future, the Interest Group will elaborate further upon the issues of self-management, research, and health and safety at work. The audience was alerted to the recent publication in PAIN titled ‘A classification of chronic pain for ICD-11’ it was agreed that this could be a topic for a future event. Although being preliminary and potentially subject to changes, this constitutes a major step forward to achieve greater attention to chronic pain as a global health priority and adequate pain treatment. This will enable the collection of epidemiological data related to chronic pain and form a basis for adequate billing for health care expenses related to pain treatment as well as supporting the development and implementation of new therapies.

The MEP Interest Group on Brain, Mind and Pain is an initiative of the European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA) and Pain Alliance Europe (PAE). It is co-chaired by MEPs Marian Harkin (ALDE, IE), Jeroen Lenaers (EPP, NL) and Daciana Sârbu (S&D, RO), and supported by almost 50 MEPs that signed a written pledge supporting the aims of the Interest Group. The aim of the group is to encourage research into and access to innovative treatments, promote prevention and self-management approaches, decrease stigma and work together to improve quality of life for people living with neurological and pain disorders. The Interest Group is funded through unrestricted grants from Grunenthal,Biogen and Pfizer. You can visit the Brain, Mind and Pain website at: www.brainmindpain.eu

Konrad Labuschagne – Head of Patient Centricity and Head of CHANGE PAIN EU&A konrad.labuschagne@grunenthal.com


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