At a Glance
  • Status: Completed Consortium
  • Year Launched: 2009
  • Initiating Organization: Innovative Medicines Initiative
  • Initiator Type: Government
  • Disease focus:
  • Location: Europe


The EUROPAIN project aims to improve the treatment of patients with chronic pain. Three academic pain consortia, from Germany, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, will join forces with a Spanish small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) and with Europe’s most active pharmaceutical companies working on pain. The scientists will search for changes in the nervous system that contribute to pain, in order to fill the gaps in the current knowledge of chronic pain. They will elucidate the mechanisms of pain, using novel experimental models, human volunteers, and clinical data of pain patients. They will search objective methods to measure pain in patients, and they will examine the mechanisms that are activated by placebo (fake) pain medication.


EUROPAIN aims to better understand the mechanisms of chronic pain and to address bottlenecks in the development of new analgesics, which will contribute to the development of better treatment options for a large group of individuals. In the end, by sharing and implementing the results of the planned research activities, EUROPAIN hopes to reduce the burden of illness of a large portion of the European population.


EUROPAIN has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (€6.0 million), the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (€11.5 million in kind), and other sources (€719,279), for a total cost of €18.2 million.


Two clinical trials are ongoing in patients with neuropathic pain. Both studies address whether patients who feel pain on touch, pressure, or cold or warm temperatures respond differently to neuropathic pain treatment than patients who do not experience increased pain with these stimuli. Other studies address the phenomenon of placebo, that is, how the perception of pain can be influenced by seemingly nonrelevant factors. Studies on this topic have already been published. Factors other than effects of the analgesic drug and of placebo may also affect how well drugs work in clinical trials. This is being investigated in an analysis of a large number of studies already conducted by some of EUROPAIN’s partners.

New laboratory methods to identify and measure chemical biomarkers have been developed for use in animals and in humans. Many types of chemical mechanisms are involved in pain. Some of these react very similarly to pain and inflammation in both animals and humans and can therefore also be used as a bridge to help in translating between patients and the laboratory. These biomarkers will inform understanding of pain mechanisms and how pain is initiated and maintained. They can also identify possible new targets for development of new pain-relieving treatments.

Points of Contact

Academic Lead:
Administrative Support:

Sponsors & Partners

The consortium network involves scientists representing 12 renowned European universities:

The consortium network also contains research resources and expertise of Europe’s most active pharmaceutical companies working in the field of analgesics, including:

Grünenthal (coordinator)





Lilly, Esteve, Pfizer


UCB Pharma

Last Updated: 04/14/2016

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