World-leading asthma experts unite to reduce European mortality rates

Author: Asthma UK

Date: JUN 2014

Asthma experts from across Europe are uniting this week (7-11 June) in Copenhagen at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Congress 2014 to tackle Europe's high asthma prevalence and death rates.

The current outlook for asthma is bleak. Around 30 million people in Europe have the condition, and 14 EU countries feature in the worst 20 countries globally for asthma prevalence rates. 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 people will be hospitalised. Not only that but the social and economic cost of asthma to Europe is high – productivity lost to asthma is estimated at 9.8 billion Euros per year.

Experts are meeting as part of an EU-funded project called the European Asthma Research and Innovation Partnership (EARIP) which brings together asthma experts from across Europe to define what's needed to reduce asthma deaths and hospitalisations in all EU member states. This is likely to include the need to develop a test to diagnose asthma; to find ways of speeding up the discovery of new treatments and getting them to patients more quickly; to identify the best ways (using new and existing technologies) of helping patients prevent life-threatening asthma attacks; to identify the elements of cost-effective asthma care that can be embedded in all health care systems; and to describe a funding mechanism through which the European Commission can support the work needed to make these changes. The EARIP Partnership itself is stellar, comprising top academics from world class institutions across Europe, global pharmaceutical companies, EU patient advocacy groups and the two major European respiratory professional organisations. Additionally, more than 50 researchers, networks and organisations across Europe are affiliated to EARIP to help it deliver its goals.

Dr Samantha Walker, Project Co-ordinator of EARIP and Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, who is attending EAACI, says: “15,000 people in Europe will die because of asthma in the next 12 months alone – it is time that the EU stops and listens as this isn't going to change unless we act now. We are at a crucial point in time where we can reduce these numbers.

EARIP is vital because it is the world's largest integrated approach to prioritising research, development and innovation needs in asthma. It is unique; no network like this exists anywhere else. By sharing best practice and facilitating learning across other countries we will have a comprehensive 'road-map' of asthma priorities across Europe that can be used to ensure investment in asthma so that we can reduce the impact it has on people and on society as a whole.

There will be two workshops taking place at EAACI, where asthma experts will come together to 1) begin discussions about what a 'cure' for asthma might look like and 2) identify new systems, models and tools to understand and identify different types of asthma (otherwise known as phenotypes) with a view to developing more targeted treatments.

Dr Nikos Papadopoulos, President of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and one of EARIP's Partners and work-package leaders, adds: “EARIP has the potential to transform asthma outcomes in Europe. These two workshops are the first two of a series that will take place over the next 18 months and the first to come out of EARIP since we formed in 2013. We hope that EAACI members will get involved in EARIP's activities, and would urge interested individuals to contact EARIP through its website

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Last revised: 6 June 2017

Next review: 6 June 2020