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06 November 2010

Disease Causes Avoidable Suffering and Elevates Healthcare Costs According to EFA’s New Book

Brussels, 6. November 2009– The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients Associations (EFA) announced today the finalisation of a book for the first time analysing the ‘state’ of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Europe from patient perspective. COPD, although ranked the 4th cause of death in the EU, remains largely unknown. Recognising the urgent need to bring COPD out of the shadows, EFA collected information from patients associations from 12 European countries . The book will be launched on November 17th, the eve of World COPD Day 2009.

The event will gather MEPs, leading experts in the field of respiratory medicine and patients representatives to announce key findings.

COPD is an umbrella term for several conditions that damage the airways, gradually making breathing increasingly difficult, primarily caused by smoking - including passive exposure - and air pollution. The findings documented in the book will serve as the basis for an urgent Call-to-Action to European and national governments to implement adequate measures in order to encourage early diagnosis and access to care and prevention that make good economic sense for patients and society alike.

The book sheds light on the inequalities in the understanding, prevention and management of COPD in the various European countries and showcases the striking impact of COPD across Europe. For example, the number of people with COPD reach as high as 13.2% in Germany. It accounts for 1 in 20 deaths in Ireland and 1 million hospital stays per year in Italy. Apart from the significant burden of the disease on patients, the total annual financial burden of lung disease in Europe already amounts to nearly €69 billion. COPD accounts for more than half of the costs.

Despite the differences in the various countries surveyed, all countries agree that the prospects are alarming. If no decisive and comprehensive action is taken, COPD is expected to grow further in the next decade and become the third leading cause of death worldwide and increasingly affect the younger population.

Despite these alarming figures, COPD is still largely unknown among the general public, which makes prevention difficult. The EFA also highlights the fact that “COPD has been neglected by healthcare services, with no diagnosis or misdiagnosis being the unfortunate common themes. Patients and health services are already paying the price”.

COPD can be treated, reducing symptoms and improving patients’ quality of life. The EFA study showcases that the rapidity and ease of access to care varies greatly from one country to another with unacceptably long waiting times in some countries like France and Ireland.

More details of the survey as well as the heavy cost of treatment and hospitalisation, both for patients and governments; access to smoking cessation; healthy environment; as well as the sizeable psychological and social burden of COPD, as those suffering from the disease are limited in their physical, social and professional activities by the disease will also be on the agenda of the book launch event.

You can access the accompanying materials here: Press Release and Media Kit

About EFA

The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) is an alliance of 35 member organisations in 22 countries, founded in 1991. EFA is committed to improve the health and quality of care of patients with allergy, asthma and COPD and encourage patient participation through advocacy, capacity building and sharing best practices. EFA’s priorities include indoor and outdoor air quality, greater access to and quality of medical and social care and prevention, patient centred research and meaningful patient participation in research, involvement in policies, commissioning of patient care services & society and having a voice in care delivery & society. 


The EFA COPD Book and the launch event are sponsored by unrestricted educational grants from EFA sustainable corporate partners Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline.


For further information, or to register to the event, please contact:

Susanna Palkonen, EFA Executive Officer, +32 (0)2 227 2712, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Press office: Marie-Agnès Cederborg, +32 (0)2 2213 13 98, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.