MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

I have repeatedly reported about what has been happening with homeopathy in France. For many decades, it had a free ride. Things began to change some 10 years ago.

  • In 2014, our book was published in French. I might be fooling myself, but I do hope that it helped to start a ball rolling.
  • Subsequently, French skeptics began raising their voices against quackery in general and homeopathy in particular.
  • In 2015, Christian Boiron, boss of Boiron, stated about people opposing homeopathy that “Il y a un Ku Klux Klan contre l’homéopathie” THERE IS A KU KLUX KLAN AGAINST HOMEOPATHY”.
  • In 2018, 124 doctors published an open letter criticizing the use of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM).
  • In the same year, the Collège National des Généralistes Engseignants, the national association for teaching doctors, pointed out that there was no rational justification for the reimbursement of homeopathics nor for the teaching of homeopathy in medical schools, and they stated bluntly that it is necessary to abandon these esoteric methods, which belong in the history books.
  • Also in 2018, the University of Lille announced its decision to stop its course on homeopathy. The faculty of medicine’s dean, Didier Gosset, said: It has to be said that we teach medicine based on proof – we insist on absolute scientific rigor – 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.
  • In 2019, the French Academies of Medicine and Pharmacy published a document entitled ‘L’homéopathie en France : position de l’Académie nationale de médecine et de l’Académie nationale de pharmacie’. It stated that 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. 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 …”
  • Only weeks later, the French health regulator (HAS) recommended with a large majority the discontinuation of the reimbursement of homeopathic products.
  • The health minister, Agnès Buzyn, announced “Je me tiendrai à l’avis de la Haute Autorité de santé”.
  • Consequently, the powerful French homeopathy lobby mounted political pressure, including a petition with over 1000000 signatures.
  • President Macron allegedly was hesitant and considered a range of options, including a reduction of the percentage of reimbursement.
  • Apparently, the minister stood up for science and, as rumored, even put her job on the line.
  • In July 2019, she announced the end of reimbursement and was quoted saying J’ai toujours dit que je suivrais l’avis de la Haute Autorité de santé (HAS), j’ai donc décidé d’engager la procédure de déremboursement total

Since then, homeopathy has indeed been banned from reimbursement. Here is a short update on the current situation:

After the disengagement of the French Social Security system, the world leader in homeopathy has been trying to convince complementary health insurance companies to take up the torch of large-scale reimbursement. Its seduction operation includes a third-party payment solution to boost sales.

From 1 January 2021, homeopathy is no longer reimbursed by Social Security. In March 2020, Boiron, the largest producer of homeopathics, began a restructuring that led to the loss of 560 jobs in France and the closure of one-third of its 31 production and distribution sites. On Thursday, the site of Chauray (Deux-Sèvres) closed after 33 years of activity.

… The CEO of Boiron, Valérie Lorentz-Poinsot, does not have words strong enough to describe the decision of the former Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, to delist homeopathy. Since the view issued in June 2019 by the French Health Authority (HAS) noting the ineffectiveness of 1,100 of these products previously reimbursed by the French health service, the reimbursement of homeopathics was reduced from 30% to 15% in 2020, then to 0% on 1 January 2021.

PS

Oh, I almost forgot to mention: the stocks in Boiron roughly halved during the last 3 years

 

16 Responses to The situation of homeopathy in France: an update

  • I feel no regret that Boiron is making less profit on pseudo-medicine. I do hope that the dismissed employees have found a new job, possibly in the “real” pharmaceutical industry.

  • It’s surely revealing, that instead of knuckling down and doing studies to prove homeopathic efficacy better than placebo in treating any condition, this wealthy company bleats about a ku klux klan against homeopathy.

    One suspects they realise that no matter how much they might spend on RCTs, the results will never be better than placebo.

    • It is indeed, erm, ‘interesting’ how homeopaths and companies such as Boiron vehemently keep insisting that Homeopathy Works, yet so far failed miserably to produce even the tiniest bit of consistent, repeatable evidence(*) to support this claim.
      Rather telling in this respect is also Boiron’s expenditure on research – according to their 2020 financial information, they spend a mere 0.6% of their annual turnover on ‘research’ – which is absolutely laughable compared to the 20% or more that makers of real medicines spend on R&D. What this means is that Boiron is either continuing the time-honoured homeopathic practice of peddling products as medicine without actually testing any therapeutic effects (cf. ‘proving’), and/or, more cynically, knows that homeopathy doesn’t work at all, and hope that they can keep getting away with fooling their customer base by suggesting otherwise and of course protesting any measures that harm their sales.

      *: By which I primarily mean evidence supporting the existence or plausibility of the following:
      – the similia principle
      – the law of infinitesimals
      – the viability of proving
      Even after 220 years(!), none of these core principles of homeopathy have ever been independently verified to exist – quite the opposite, in fact, as everyday observations in real chemistry show us.

      But even if we look at individual homeopathic ‘remedies’, not a single one of those has been shown to have any effect on any condition whatsoever when researched in a proper scientific manner. All we have is claims from homeopaths that they ‘see it work with their own eyes’. And they claim this for even the most ludicrous ‘remedies’ that homeopathy has come up with – which in itself is in fact evidence enough to dismiss their claims as mass delusion.

  • Why are there comments here that dismiss homeopathy without citing sources? Instructions made that requirement clear. These inane comments belong on social media, not here.

    Here’s mine.

    Article from the National Institute of Health in the US on using homeopathy on patients with covid 19

    Abstract

    Background/objective: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new disease; its clinical profile and natural history are evolving. Each well-recorded case in homeopathic practice is important for deciding the future course of action. This study aims at identifying clinically useful homeopathic remedies and their prescribing symptoms using the prognostic factor research model.

    Methods: This was an open-label, multi-centric, observational study performed from April 2020 to July 2020 at various public health care clinics. The data were collected prospectively from clinical practice at integrated COVID-19 care facilities in India. Good-quality cases were selected using a specific set of criteria. These cases were analyzed for elucidating prognostic factors by calculating the likelihood ratio (LR) of each frequently occurring symptom. The symptoms with high LR values (>1) were considered as prescribing indications of the specific remedy.

    Results: Out of 327 COVID-19 cases reported, 211 met the selection criteria for analysis. The most common complaints were fatigue, sore throat, dry cough, myalgia, fever, dry mouth and throat, increased thirst, headache, decreased appetite, anxiety, and altered taste. Twenty-seven remedies were prescribed and four of them-Arsenicum album, Bryonia alba, Gelsemium sempervirens, and Pulsatilla nigricans-were the most frequently used. A high LR was obtained for certain symptoms, which enabled differentiation between the remedies for a given patient.

    Conclusion: Homeopathic medicines were associated with improvement in symptoms of COVID-19 cases. Characteristic symptoms of four frequently indicated remedies have been identified using prognostic factor research, findings that can contribute to accurate homeopathic prescribing during future controlled research in COVID-19.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33930904/

    • please note the absence of a control group.

    • That article is not from the National Institute of Health in the US. The authors affiliation are “Health and Family Welfare Department, Directorate of AYUSH, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, New Delhi, India”.

      AYUSH isn’t the most reliable of medical sources.

  • Here is another study from Italy of 50 patients with covid 19 using homeopathy.

    https://homeopathic.com/italian-mds-study-results-on-homeopathic-treatment-of-50-covid-19-patients-none-of-whom-needed-hospitalization/

    It’s clear that the powers that be are threatened by the superiority of homeopathy over allopathy and thus have begun a witch hunt to take down their competition, despite there is no competition when it comes to homeopathy, because it doesn’t poison, it cures.

    • this seems to be the summary of your ‘study’:
      In Italy most positive and probable COVID-19 patients are at home if their clinical situation is mild. A group of homeopathic physicians treated 50 patients.The study describes their hospitalization rate, clinical evolution, homeopathic medicines used and gives an updated picture of use, limitations and perspectives of classical homeopathy in COVID-19 extrahospital patients

      please note the absence of a control group.

  • This revelation clearly bothers me, but the good news is, homeopathy is so affordable, people will still use it if they truly want to be cured. Everyone else can pop their 20 some odd pills a day all the way to their ultimate destination of a nursing home, where toxic drugs thrive. I’m 62 and doctors here in the US find it strange that I do not take nor do I need drugs. I’m not vaccinated either, never have been, never will be. That’s the secret to my good health! Can’t say the same for my family members who choose allopathy. Big pharma loves obedient fools.

    • What is this sweeping generalisation about 20 pills a day? And nursing homes?

      Homeopathy is big pharma.

      I’m 64, and don’t take any prescription oral medication. I manage my dry atopic skin with emollients, and topical corticosteroids for flare-ups, and it keeps on a very even keel.

      I’m vaccinated, always have been, always will be. That’s the secret to my good health!

      SCAM practitioners love gullible fools, and that’s what some of them are themselves.

    • @Karen Spence

      homeopathy is so affordable, people will still use it if they truly want to be cured.

      This is exactly what Big Homeo wants you to believe – and it is a lie. Homeopathic preparations are just sugar crumbs that are sold for about a hundred times the price of plain sugar, and homeopaths typically charge three or four times the fee that a family doctor charges – and this often without any medical education whatsoever.

      There is no evidence at all that homeopathy can cure any ailment whatsoever, except for congestive hyperpecuniosis in the leathery structure called ‘the wallet’.

    • Karen

      You sound like another American lady of similar age who used to post similar ignorant bumwash on this blog. She doesn’t any more. Because she’s dead. If you want to put your faith in imaginary medicine, be prepared to accept the consequences.

  • I’m sorry. I thought this site promoted science and scientific studies, over opinions. I realize we are living in strange times when “facts” are simply opinions, which Facebook learned the hard way recently in a court of law. I’ll just take my common sense and my cited evidence, none of which any of you has provided, and go where logic reigns. You do realize that none of the above would have happened if homeopathy wasn’t effective. An ineffective alternative to allopathy would not be a threat, obviously. So how do you remove the completion? Kill or maim it. Simple as that. But I understand. Some people just need someone else to show them how to connect dots.

    • Karen, as a non-medical person with a decades-long interest in homeopathy and in evidence-based medicine, I am struggling here to understand what you’re trying to say.

      Can you not see, from what has already been said here, that the ‘study’ you cite, is not evidence for the efficacy of homeopathic treatments in altering the course of Covid-19?

      No credible evidence exists for that any homeopathic medicine has any effect greater than placebo in altering the course of any medical condition.

      Do you know anything about homeopathy, Karen – have you read any books on it?

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