Purpose: Based on available epidemiologic, health economic, and international population statistics literature, the cost of epilepsy in Europe was estimated.
Methods: Europe was defined as the 25 European Union member countries, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. Guidelines for epidemiological studies on epilepsy were used for a case definition. A bottom-up prevalence-based cost-of-illness approach, the societal perspective for including the cost items, and the human capital approach as valuation principle for indirect costs were used. The cost estimates were based on selected studies with common methodology and valuation principles.
Results: The estimated prevalence of epilepsy in Europe in 2004 was 4.3-7.8 per 1,000. The estimated total cost of the disease in Europe was euro15.5 billion in 2004, indirect cost being the single most dominant cost category (euro8.6 billion). Direct health care costs were euro2.8 billion, outpatient care comprising the largest part (euro1.3 billion). Direct nonmedical cost was euro4.2 billion. That of antiepileptic drugs was euro400 million. The total cost per case was euro2,000-11,500 and the estimated cost per European inhabitant was euro33.
Conclusions: Epilepsy is a relevant socioeconomic burden at individual, family, health services, and societal level in Europe. The greater proportion of such burden is outside the formal health care sector, antiepileptic drugs representing a smaller proportion. Lack of economic data from several European countries and other methodological limitations make this report an initial estimate of the cost of epilepsy in Europe. Prospective incidence cost-of-illness studies from well-defined populations and common methodology are encouraged.