Answer to a written question on Low profile of liver diseases

Question for written answer E-005504/2014
to the Commission Rule 117 Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE)

Subject: Low profile of liver diseases

According to some estimates, liver diseases, and cirrhosis of the liver in particular, are extremely costly in terms of human suffering, GP and hospital visits and loss of productivity. Currently, cirrhosis of the liver is one of the ten biggest causes of death in Western societies. In spite of this, little attention is paid to the disease. Recently, moreover, a number of studies have indicated that certain genetic predispositions, combined with an unhealthy lifestyle, could favour the development of liver diseases in young people.

In this context, would the Commission:

  1. provide details of the status of research into liver diseases, and indicate the main research centres or networks for research into the above-mentioned disease?
  2. provide statistics on the prevalence of the disease in Europe and its main causes?
  3. give details of the action taken by the EU and individual Member States to raise the profile of the disease and to inform people about prevention?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

The EU has supported research on liver diseases dealing with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of viral hepatitis, inflammatory liver diseases and liver cancer under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities 2007-2013 with some EUR 147.8 million. Examples of research projects include FLIP on fatty liver disease [1] and MIP-DILI, on prevention of drug toxicity to liver [2].

Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) [3], will provide further opportunities to support research on liver diseases through its "Health, demographic change and wellbeing" societal challenge Information on current funding opportunities can be obtained at the Research and Innovation Participant Portal [4].

While the European Commission does not collect data on the prevalence of liver diseases, Eurostat publishes causes of death statistics for 85 diseases including chronic liver disease. In 2010 close to 81.000 people died from chronic liver disease in the EU28.

Alcohol consumption is a key risk factor to liver cirrhosis: in Europe it accounts for 58 to 78% of the cases of this disease, including both sexes and all age groups above 15. Data shows that the impact of chronic heavy drinking on cirrhosis is extremely high [5]. Yet, the knowledge of EU citizens on this close association is inadequate. One of the five priority themes of the 2006 EU Alcohol Strategy [6] is to inform and raise awareness on the impact of hazardous alcohol consumption. The Commission is working closely with Member States within the Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action and with a wide range of stakeholders within the European Alcohol and Health Forum to reduce alcohol related harm.

[1] Fatty liver: Inhibition of Progression,

[2] MIP-DILI Mechanism-Based Integrated Systems for the Prediction of Drug-Induced Liver Injury,