Hahnemann spent his last years in Paris where he and his young French wife became what we today might call fashionable gurus. Ever since, homeopathy has been almost as popular in France as it is in Germany. The world’s largest producer of homeopathic products, Boiron, is based in France, and about 10% of the French population, particularly young children and women, receive at least one homeopathic preparation per year.
For a long time, homeopathy existed almost entirely unchallenged in France. This odd ‘status quo’ has changed only in recent months. But now even the French Academies of Medicine and Pharmacy have published a short document entitled L’homéopathie en France : position de l’Académie nationale de médecine et de l’Académie nationale de pharmacie. It stated this:
L’homéopathie a été introduite à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, par Samuel Hahnemann, postulant deux hypothèses : celle des similitudes (soigner le mal par le mal) et celle des hautes dilutions. L’état des données scientifiques ne permet de vérifier à ce jour aucune de ces hypothèses. Les méta-analyses rigoureuses n’ont pas permis de démontrer une efficacité des préparations homéopathiques.[My translation: Homeopathy was introduced by Samuel Hahnemann at the end of the 18th century; he postulated two hypotheses: like cures like and high dilution. The scientific evidence does not confirm either of them. Rigorous meta-analyses fail to show the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies.]
The academies concluded that no French university should offer degrees in homeopathy, and that homeopathy should no longer be funded by the public purse: “no homeopathic preparation should be reimbursed by Assurance Maladie [France’s health insurance] until the demonstration of sufficient medical benefit has been provided. No university degree in homeopathy should be issued by medical or pharmaceutical faculties ... The reimbursing of these products by the social security seems aberrant at a time when, for economic reasons, we are not reimbursing many classic medicines because they are more or less considered to not work well enough …
Already last year, the Collège National des Généralistes Engseignants, the national association for teaching doctors, had pointed out that there was no rational justification for the reimbursement of homeopathics nor for the teaching of homeopathy in medical schools: It is necessary to abandon these esoteric methods, which belong in the history books. Simultaneously, 124 doctors published an open letter criticising SCAM (including homeopathy) as dangerous and fantasist … practised by charlatans of all kinds.
Also in 2018, the University of Lille announced its decision to stop its course on homeopathy. The faculty of medicine’s dean, Didier Gosset, stated: It has to be said that we teach medicine based on proof – we insist on absolute scientific rigour – and it has to be said that homeopathy has not evolved in the same direction, that it is a doctrine that has remained on the margins of the scientific movement, that studies on homeopathy are rare, that they are not very substantial. Continuing to teach it would be to endorse it.
Agnès Buzyn, the health minister, said in April 2018: there is a continuous evaluation of the medicines we call complementary. A working group at the head office of my department checks that all these practices are not dangerous. If a therapy continues to be beneficial without being harmful, it continues to be reimbursed… The French are very attached [to homeopathy]; it’s probably a placebo effect. If it can prevent the use of toxic medicine, I think that we all win. I does not hurt. Shortly after, she asked France’s medical council, the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), to evaluate the efficacy of homeopathy and the basis for it being reimbursed. The HAS will publish its findings in June.
It seems that we will soon know whether the minister, the officials of HAS and the Academies, as well as a growing group of French sceptics have all joined the infamous KKK – in an interview, Christian Boiron pointed out not long ago that “Il y a un Ku Klux Klan contre l’homéopathie” THERE IS A KU KLUX KLAN AGAINST HOMEOPATHY.