Homeopathy has had a long and profitable ride in France; nowhere else in Europe is it more popular, nowhere in Europe are the profit margins higher, and nowhere have I seen pharmacists pushing so hard to earn a few extra Euros on useless homeopathic remedies.

But, since a few months, sceptics have started to raise their voices and object to homeopathic reimbursement (currently at the rate of 30%) and to homeopathy in general.

  • A group of doctors protested against homeopathy by publishing an open letter in ‘Le Figaro’.
  • The French Academies of Medicine and Pharmacy published a report confirming the lack of evidence for homeopathy.
  • The medical school in Lille suspended its degree in homeopathy.

The French health secretary, the oncologist Dr Agnès Buzyn, reacted wisely, in my view. She initially stated that the effect of homeopathy is ‘probably a placebo effect‘. Subsequently, she asked the regulator, La Haute Autorite de Sante (HAS), to look into the matter and prepare a full analysis of the evidence. This report has now been published.

An article in ‘FRANCE INFO’ reports that HAS found no good evidence in support of the ~ 1 200 homeopathic remedies currently on the French market. The document is currently being considered by Dr Buzyn who will announce her decision about reimbursement in June. It is considered to be highly likely that she will stop reimbursement.

If so, consumers will soon have to pay in full for homeopathic preparations out of their own pocket. In addition, they would have to pay the VAT, and it is foreseeable that this change would signal the end of the French consumers’ love affair with homeopathy. This development is bound to seriously hurt Boiron, the world’s largest producer of homeopathics. The firm has already announced that they suspended its trading on the stock market and is now arguing that the move would endanger its sizable workforce.

The question I now ask myself is whether Boiron is powerful enough to do something about all this. Personally, I have been impressed by the rational approach of Dr Buzyn. She will no doubt see through Boiron’s bogus argument of saving a form of obsolete quackery in the name of employment. Therefore, I expect that the days of homeopathy’s reimbursement in France are counted.

(For those who can read French, I add the original ‘ FRANCE INFO’ article below.)


Les granules homéopathiques offrent “un service médical rendu insuffisant” selon la HAS.

La Haute autorité de santé (HAS) recommande de ne plus rembourser les granules homéopathiques, alors que leur efficacité est controversée, selon les informations de franceinfo jeudi 16 mai. La HAS a envoyé aux laboratoires fabriquant des médicaments homéopathiques son projet d’avis pour les informer.Après avoir étudié 1 200 médicaments homéopathiques, la Haute autorité de santé estime que ces granules offrent un “service médical rendu insuffisant”. Elles demandent donc que les médicaments homéopathiques, jusque-là remboursés à hauteur de 30%, ne le soient désormais plus du tout.

Avis définitif en juin

Cet avis avait été réclamé par la ministre de la Santé il y a plusieurs mois face à la montée de la polémique entre médecins pro et anti-homéopathie. 124 médecins avaient relancé le débat l’an dernier en qualifiant les homéopathes de “charlatans”.

Désormais, lors d’une phase contradictoire, les laboratoires vont pouvoir répondre à la HAS, qui rendra son avis définitif en juin. La ministre de la Santé, Agnès Buzyn, avait par le passé annoncé qu’elle se rangerait à cet avis.

1 000 emplois menacés, selon Boiron

Les pro-homéopathie eux, s’insurgent. Selon eux, les granules ne coûtent que 130 millions d’euros par an à la Sécurité sociale, contre 20 milliards pour les médicaments classiques. Et il existe d’après eux, au minimum, un effet placebo. Pour les laboratoires Boiron, leader mondial du secteur, si l’homéopathie n’est plus remboursée, ce sont 1 000 emplois qui sont directement menacés.

Par ailleurs, dans un communiqué commun, trois laboratoires (Boiron, Lehning et Weleda) s’émeuvent de découvrir à travers un média la teneur d’un avis d’une agence indépendante qui devait être tenu confidentiel. Les laboratoires Boiron précisent à franceinfo qu’ils n’ont pas encore reçu le projet d’avis de la Haute autorité de santé. Boiron, entreprise française cotée, annonce “suspendre” son cours de bourse.

34 Responses to The days of homeopathy in France are counted

  • Boiron workers should re-train as counsellors, or ‘placebists’.
    There is clearly a need.

    • Dr Rawlins

      The end of ‘clinical homeopathy’ may well lead to a new path for homeopathy so I would say that Boiron should stay in business but ‘homeopathy’ practitioners should retrain as homeopaths.

      People that access homeopathy and homeopathic remedies should pay for it themselves until there is credible evidence of efficacy to justify the public purse being used to reimburse this for health care.

      Have you considered using homeopathy for your Placebist practice?

    • What’s the Française for “nice cup of tea and a chat”? Therapeutic and honest.

  • I am somewhat curious about the statements made by Boiron and Weleda, which are still granted to them. They do not have much time, because Mme Buzyn has announced her final decision for June.

    Does Christian Boiron now attribute Mme Buzyn to the Ku Klux Klan, too?

  • Another homeopathic company is facing a big problem :

    They are still selling cancer treatment in France while links to so called Anthroposophic medicine.

  • Someone should tell Dr (Drug pusher) Buzyn that homeopathy has been ,for many decades, used effectively on animals from pets to racehorses, placebo ? whats that ? asked the horse. Horses say neh to drug doctors.

    • not a very clever comment, if I may say!
      1) insulting her as a drug pusher puts you in the wrong straight away.
      2) homeopathy does not work for animals beyond a placebo effect []

      • If only you could read Edzard, it would be a start. The article you cited does not say: ‘homeopathy does not work for animals beyond a placebo effect’

        It states
        Veterinary homeopathy: meta-analysis of randomised placebo-controlled trials.
        Mathie RT1, Clausen J2.
        Author information
        Meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of veterinary homeopathy has not previously been undertaken. For all medical conditions and species collectively, we tested the hypothesis that the outcome of homeopathic intervention (treatment and/or prophylaxis, individualised and/or non-individualised) is distinguishable from corresponding intervention using placebos.

        All facets of the review, including literature search strategy, study eligibility, data extraction and assessment of risk of bias, were described in an earlier paper. A trial was judged to comprise reliable evidence if its risk of bias was low or was unclear in specific domains of assessment. Effect size was reported as odds ratio (OR). A trial was judged free of vested interest if it was not funded by a homeopathic pharmacy. Meta-analysis was conducted using the random-effects model, with hypothesis-driven sensitivity analysis based on risk of bias.

        Nine of 15 trials with extractable data displayed high risk of bias; low or unclear risk of bias was attributed to each of the remaining six trials, only two of which comprised reliable evidence without overt vested interest. For all N = 15 trials, pooled OR = 1.69 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.12 to 2.56]; P = 0.01. For the N = 2 trials with suitably reliable evidence, pooled OR = 2.62 [95% CI, 1.13 to 6.05]; P = 0.02).

        Meta-analysis provides some very limited evidence that clinical intervention in animals using homeopathic medicines is distinguishable from corresponding intervention using placebos. The low number and quality of the trials hinders a more decisive conclusion.

        End of quote

        • bravo!
          you manage to copy from Medline
          pity that you did not manage to write a post without an insult though.

          if we consider that this review was funded by homeopathic organisations likely to have a pro-homeopathy bias [like yourself], I think my thumb nail summary was justified.

          • Your summary is not justified, unless YOU believe that animals experience placebo effect.

          • they do!
            placebo effects are caused mainly by 2 factors: expectation and conditioning.
            conditioning was discovered by Pavlov in dogs.

      • Animals ? Placebo ? is that some kind of a joke ?

  • Edzard, if two dogs are given a substance to deworm them. One is given genuine dewormer and the other is given a placebo, are you seriously suggesting that the placebo will deworm the second dog?

    Pavlov had to so some work to in order to condition the dog? Continuous conditioning? How does this compare with giving a horse a dose of Aconite to calm its nerves before a big race? ‘MMM lovely aconite, that should settle me’ thinks the horse? This can be tested by giving the horse Aconite and placebo: if it is calm on Aconite, and restless on placebo, why is that Edzard?


    • please learn some of the basics; I have no intention to teach them to you.
      but my compliments: you managed to write your 1st post since ages without an insult!

    • Animal treatment is influenced by the caregiver placebo effect. There are also a number of other reasons a bogus treatment might appear to work in veterinary patients, I have mentioned some of them in this blog post:

      … and expanded on them, with a further description of the caregiver placebo effect in this book:

      In a nutshell, an apparent response to CAVM in an animal is most certainly not proof that the CAVM has had any effect. This has been mentioned scores of times in debate with homeopaths and others on many platforms but it keeps coming up as a positive argument for homeopathy even still. It seems homeopaths are unwilling to listen to reasoning that doesn’t suit their preconception. Also, as has already been mentioned there is plenty of evidence that homeopathy is as ineffective in animals as it is in humans.


    • He’s talking about placebo effect on animals now ! desperation. You’re not dealing with right thinking people here Greg. As for the people that believe their nonsense.. well you know the one about the blind leading the blind..

      • Joe

        My comments are primarily intended to get Edzard to clarify points in his posts or comments and, if he does not, then to clarify for him the difference between homeopathy and ‘homeopathy’.

        Anyway, Edzard did not provide a response to the dewormer/placebo scenario for two dogs. If he seriously believes that the placebo will deworm the dog, then God help him.

        • another pathetic comment!
          I did not respond because, as explained before, some comments do not deserve a response.
          did you think that deworming cannot happen spontaneously?

          • Ok Edzard, miracles and natural cures do occur. I am a believer in that, remember?

            Forget about TWO dogs.

            What about a test of 1000 dogs, 500 given placebo and 500 given vet certified genuine dewormer. Which one do you think will be the most successful outcome of number of dogs dewormed?

          • your dog story is utter BS
            no verification of diagnosis – just hearsay
            that’s why I will not reply again to BS comments

          • What about a test of 1000 dogs, 500 given placebo and 500 given vet certified genuine dewormer.

            Sounds like a good idea. Perhaps a similar test could be arranged for a homeopathic deworming method as well.

          • Greg,

            What about a test of 1000 dogs, 500 given placebo and 500 given vet certified genuine dewormer. Which one do you think will be the most successful outcome of number of dogs dewormed?

            Has such a trial been done? If not then your question isn’t really very meaningful.

            miracles and natural cures do occur.

            Spontaneous cures happen all the time. Our bodies are quite good at dealing with problems. Statistical outliers will always be found, too. If you don’t understand how numbers behave you might be tempted to regard them as miracles.

  • Finally, good news from France.
    And taking in account it is one of the most green countries, it’s even better.

  • That’s funny Edzard.

    Unlike you, I am a trained homeopath. I have written some blog posts over the years, and your readers are welcome to read them.

  • While I have used Western medicine for diagnosis of my headaches, It wasn’t until I discovered a homeopathic cell salt that my headaches went away completely (after 15 years of looking for answers from conventional medicine! ) … My headaches are caused by poor blood flow to the head and this is confirmed by a Tilt table test and Doppler at a Scripps clinic in San Diego , CA, but as I said the medication they gave me did not work and in fact caused more problems… It wasn’t until I came across a homepathic remedy that worked with no side effects that I got rid of my headaches! … just my experience.

    • quack diagnoses require quack treatments?

    • @Ray Hayden

      What’s ‘Western medicine’?

      • Great question, Alan! From the context, I assumed Ray meant ‘western’ as ‘modern’, or maybe ‘conventional’. Since he mentioned the tilt table test, doppler, and the Scripps Clinic.

        I see your confusion, though. Usually people use ‘western’ to mean anatomy, physiology, and pathology models that evolved the western world, as opposed to ‘eastern’ systems that use totally different models. But as I understand it, homeopathy developed in the context of ‘western’ models, yes? Quite the conundrum.

        Probably would have been clearer if he used ‘allopathic’ instead of ‘western’.

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