A survey of 3,000 members of Action for ME and the ME Association showed that pounds 700m was paid each year on disability and unemployment benefits to sufferers.
Another pounds 600m was lost to the Government in national insurance and tax revenue, while pounds 138m was spent on treatment and medical services. Up to pounds 2bn in salaries, wages and other costs was taken out of the economy as a result of sufferers giving up work and being made redundant.
ME, characterised by extreme exhaustion and lethargy, is a controversial condition still frequently dismissed as a mental rather than a physical problem. About 150,000 people in Britain said to be affected by the illness, some sufferers wheelchair or bed bound for years.
The survey, published during International ME Awareness Week, showed that women with the condition outnumbered men by three to one, and 56 per cent of sufferers were aged between 35 and 54.Reuse content