High Economic Burden of Epilepsy is Driving Demand for Better Treatments

According to the WHO, epilepsy affects more than 50 million people worldwide, and six million of these people live in Europe.

15 million Europeans will have at least one seizure at some point in their lives but even with these staggering figures, in some European countries, epilepsy is not recognized as a brain disorder and up to 40% of people with this condition may go untreated.

A 2013 study by Trinity College in Dublin stated that the total economic burden from epilepsy on the European economy was $18 billion. The study estimated the average cost per person was about $6,031 annually.


Source: Technavio

The epilepsy drugs market in Europe will grow more than $172 million by 2019 with Germany being the largest revenue contributor to the market. Germany has extremely high annual costs related to epilepsy and finding methods and products to better treat this disease will be highly beneficial to their economy.

The current market has significant unmet medical needs in terms of safe and efficient drugs for treating epilepsy. The available approved drugs only alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy but do not completely cure the disease because they cannot reverse the neuronal damage. These drugs are also associated with side-effects such as weight gain, blurred vision, and dizziness, while some drugs can even cause suicidal tendencies. The lack of safe and effective disease-modifying therapies presents significant opportunities for key vendors and any drug that can overcome these shortfalls will likely drive the market.

As bad as the epilepsy problem is in Europe, it is even worse in South America and especially Africa. The map below shows the age standardized DALY (disability-adjusted life year) rates from epilepsy by country per 100,000 inhabitants. DALY is a measure of overall disease burden and can be thought of as one lost year of healthy life.

via chartsbin.com

Map created by Technavio, Source: WHO

The next five years will feature a new generation of anti-epileptic drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are developing new-generation anti-epileptic drugs, which are slowly replacing the available old generation epilepsy drugs. Pharmaceutical companies in Europe are shifting to third-generation drugs that have superior pharmacokinetic profiles and innovative mechanisms of action compared to old generation drugs. Third-generation drugs such as lacosamide, lamotrigine, zonisamide, levetiracetam, and rufinamide have fewer adverse effects and drug interactions and should help with future treatment of the epilepsy.