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European Rheumatologists: FP7 – better recognition of rheumatic diseases but more needs to be done

4th Alliance Against Arthritis Action Day examines opportunities for European support for research in the most common chronic diseases

On the occasion of the 4th Alliance Against Arthritis (AAA) Action day which took place on 6-7 March in Brussels, researchers, health professionals and patient representatives from all over Europe expressed their disappointment about the fact that the EU has not fully responded to the repeated calls of their sector and has not granted the same funding status to rheumatic diseases as for some other major diseases in the final text of the 7th Research Framework Programme (RFP 7). Researchers nevertheless expressed their satisfaction that the first call for proposals under the new programme includes some new opportunities for research in rheumatic diseases. The 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) adopted by the Council on 18 December 2006 mentions for the first time arthritis, rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases in the part dedicated to health research. “Over the last past months the European League against Rheumatism has done some substantial awareness-raising work and we are very glad to see some results. The rheumatology sector in Europe strongly hopes that FP7 will make a difference in providing for the first time some substantial support for cross-border rheumatology research” said Prof. Tore K. Kvien, President of the European League against Rheumatism (EULAR). Despite some medical advances in the last years, most rheumatic diseases are still largely incurable today. According to the rheumatology sector in Europe united under the umbrella of EULAR, increased pan-European efforts are needed to accelerate the development of concepts for curative therapies and to translate them into clinical application. Multidisciplinary pan-European research is required to understand the interaction of genetic, environmental and lifestyle causes of clinical research at the onset. Of equal importance are a better understanding of the progression of rheumatic diseases and better strategies for prevention and treatment. “In our view, there has been only partial recognition of the significance of rheumatic diseases in the final wording of the Programme” commented Prof. Josef Smolen, EULAR Past President. “We appeal to the European institutions, and especially to the European Commission, to reflect in the upcoming call for proposals the urgent needs of European society.” Almost one-quarter of Europeans (more than 100 million) live with some form of rheumatism or arthritis . Rheumatic diseases such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and inflammatory rheumatic diseases represent 40% of all chronic conditions and 54% of all long-term disability .. In Europe alone, rheumatic diseases impose an economic burden of more than 200 billion euros per year . The financial and social burden of the diseases is expected to grow immensely due to the ageing population in Europe and chronic character of the diseases. As major diseases FP7 mentions cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes/obesity and rare diseases.

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Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, United Kingdom