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

About a year ago, I reported last on the situation of homeopathy in France. Now it might be time for another update. The end of the reimbursement of homeopathy was, of course, a heavy blow for the laboratories concerned, especially Boiron and Weleda.

Are these firms now going bust?

Is the French public missing homeopathy?

The cessation of reimbursement took place in two steps: in 2020, the reimbursement rate was reduced to 15 % and expired completely in 2021. The new director of Weleda France, Ludovic Rassat, explains that, in 2020, when the reimbursement was reduced to 15 %, the impact on sales was just 20 %. The decrease was limited because of the supplementary health insurance which 80 % of French people have still supplemented the reimbursement up to 100 %. In 2021, this generosity stopped and the reimbursement fell from 100 to 0 %. This led to a 60 % drop in sales and to losses of 13 million Euros for Weleda France.

According to an Ipsos survey commissioned by Boiron Laboratories in October 2018, 70 % of all French used homeopathy to relieve their first symptoms, 74 % thought homeopathic remedies were effective and 71 % thought homeopathy was a good complement to conventional treatments. One might, therefore, have assumed that French consumers would continue using their beloved remedies despite the cessation of reimbursement. However, this was not the case. The most obvious explanation for this phenomenon, I think, is that the above-mentioned survey had generated false-positive results and that people correctly judged homeopathic remedies to be superfluous.

Faced with unsustainable losses, the French manufacturers of homeopathic products are now forced to react. A press release by Weleda France from 4 July 2022 stated that “This project would result in the discontinuation of pharmaceutical production and medical information in France and the closure of the Weleda division. This would result in the cessation of production activities at the Huningue site and an adjustment of the organisation of activities at headquarters. In total, 127 jobs could be cut at Weleda France.” If this step is taken as planned, Weleda France will have to earn its money purely on its cosmetic and anthroposophical products, according to the director.

In 2019, Laboratoires Boiron owned 4 production laboratories and 28 distribution facilities in France. In March 2020, the company announced that it had decided to cut 646 jobs in France and close 13 of its 31 sites, due to the poor economic results that followed the cessation of reimbursement of its products by the social security system. Following the decision by the Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, to stop the reimbursement of homeopathic preparations by the social security system, Boiron announced that the Montrichard site in the Loir-et-Cher region had not managed to find a buyer. As a result, the site, which employed around 80 people, closed on 31 December 2021.

And the French consumers?

Are they missing homeopathy?

Are they suffering from homeopathy withdrawal?

Are they more frequently ill without homeopathy?

Are they switching to more expensive conventional drugs?

I currently spend much of my time in France and cannot say that I have noticed any of this. On the contrary, most people I talk to are delighted that homeopathy is no longer reimbursed. But this is no evidence, of course. I am unable to find any reliable data to answer the above questions.

When the French health minister decided against homeopathy two years ago, she said: “It’s possible to leave the doctor’s office without a prescription! Let’s take advantage of this debate on homeopathy to reflect more broadly on our use of medicine. The ultimate goal is to consume less.” She was correct, it seems.

 

 

38 Responses to Homeopathy in France: going, going, gone!

  • It’s thrilling to see ineffective treatments removed from rebate schemes, which after all are paid for out of the public purse, via taxes or subscriptions.

    No society should be forced to pay for what is actually health fraud.

  • Vive La France!

  • I fear that a similar approach in Germany will not happen so quietly without protests. There are still enough politicians who insist on the “usefulness” of homeopathy and support it at any cost. Like, for example, Manne Lucha, Minister for Social Affairs, Health and Integration in Baden-Wuerttemberg, who criticized the decision of the Baden-Wuerttemberg Medical Association to cancel additional training in homeopathy:
    “Baden-Württemberg ist das Land der Naturheilkunde und gerade die Homöopathie ist für viele Bürgerinnen und Bürger im Land ein wichtiger Teil ihrer Gesundheitsversorgung.” (Baden-Wuerttemberg is the land of naturopathy, and homeopathy in particular is an important part of health care for many citizens in the state.)

    https://www.zeit.de/news/2022-08/01/lucha-stellt-sich-bei-homoeopathie-gegen-aerzteschaft

  • omg! if big pharma aren’t happy with killing all those innocent idiots who jabbed themselves to death now they’re turning to the naturally and pure healthy ones who use only NATURE to cure themselves. yes, the ones who were aimed at those ‘green’ zones the government spent billions on and now sit festering because the NATURALLY PURE FOLK are STILL NATURALLY PURE AND HEALTHY! poor jabbed buggers supporting an industry that kills, maims and has been forced by courts around the world to pay millions for their hidden corruption eg illegally procuring signatures to authorize their drugs are safe! i’m so glad i wasn’t brought up wearing rose tinted glasses!

    • I hope you soon find a cure for your paranoia.

    • “Those innocent idiots who jabbed themselves to death”

      Oh dear. Someone’s been listening to The Voices again. A classic stream of unevidenced AltMed delusional bumwash.

    • Homeopathic sugar pills might be natural in origin but not good for the health!
      You seem very confused. What has vaccination to do with homeopathy? You clearly mistrust modern medicine, which has saved millions of lives, in particular through antibiotics and vaccines (which totally eradicated smallpox and have almost eradicated polio). When nobody had effective medicine, a huge percentage of the population died of TB, cancer, measles etc. Your ‘natural’ diet and quack ‘remedies’ are unlikely to cure you of anything OR protect you from viruses.
      Maybe your school let you down when it came to science teaching but it is never too late to learn. Please don’t waste your money on pseudo-scientific quackery without doing some research from reliable sources!

      • As gets repeatedly pointed out it was hygiene and better food and air that eradicated most diseases and antibiotics filled in the gaps. Vaccines were rolled out after disease mortality had dropped by 90% or more for most diseases and then given credit, and lots of money. Companies were going to stop making them because they were getting sued so spectacularly until they convinced Congress to give them almost complete liability protection. So now they have a monopoly product that is largely mandated for children, paid for largely by a third party (taxpayers), promoted by the regulators, unregulated since the regulators are captured by the industry, original R&D costs largely paid for by a third party (taxpayers), has no requirement to be improved after it is approved for distribution and almost completely liability free. Wow, what a great business model. They are quacking all the way to the bank.

        Not so good for the victims of this business. If they create a new disease or spread new viruses (polio vaccines) or destroy natural herd immunity (measles) or are required for a disease that doesnt need a vaccine (chickenpox) so be it. The health of the industry and suppressing “vaccine hesitancy” is more important.

        So roll up your sleeves, children, hundreds more are in the pipeline. Only 6 or 7 at one time?! Hell, as Dr Offit says, you can take 10,000 at one time. Has that ever been tested for safety against true placebo? Why bother. We know its good because our “science” says so. Comparing true placebo, saline injection, vs vaccine? Comparing vaccinated vs unvaccinated children in studies? What dangerous (for the industry) concepts. We cant allow that.

        Does giving 6 vaccines in the first 6 months of life before the kid even has a functioning immune system cause autism? Ludicrous! Why, we have the studies here that show… Oh, sorry the studies were never done (as was proven in a court of law). We will get around to it some day, as the law requires.
        https://www.icandecide.org/ican-v-cdc-cdc-cannot-support-its-claim-that-vaccines-do-not-cause-autism/

        Homeopathy made its name by having excellent results during epidemics in the 1800s and early 1900s. During the Spanish Flu epidemic homeopathic doctors in Philadelphia recorded a 1.05% mortality rate for over 26,000 patients while conventional doctors had a 10-30% mortality rate.

  • Here in France even the most rational people tend to have irrational beliefs in quack treatments. Pharmacies still carry a lot of homeopathic ‘remedies’, even for animals (I suppose the placebo effect is on the owner). A neighbour who has sequelae from prostate cancer treatment, notably having to pee every hour, told me that he’d been to see a ‘magnetiseur’ and that since he only had to pee every two hours. He’s well-educated and intelligent…… I despair. There are also people called ‘conjureurs’ (aptly-named), who treat burns by placing their hands above them. The person doesn’t even need to be present; they can just send a photograph of the burn. The nurse in the village that she had done this for her husband when he burned his hand!

    • I would add to this that this irrational belief in the efficacy of pills is not limited to homeopathic or herbal products. I remember research finding that in France and Southern-European countries, 98% of visits to GP’s resulted in a prescription – not so much for medical reasons, but because patients expected to get medicines, and felt that their doctor did not take them seriously if they were sent home without medication(*).

      This is also one of the many reasons why it is still fairly common for doctors to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, and also why you can find a pharmacy on almost every street corner in those countries.
      Apparently, the process of getting ‘medicine’ for one’s medical problems is far more important than the actual medicine itself – so maybe those doctors should decide to openly prescribe placebos. This would not only substantially reduce medication cost, but also a huge amount of adverse effects resulting from all this overmedication.

      *: Here in the Netherlands, I believe that this number is around 50-60%. Still quite high in my opinion, given that at least 75% of common medical complaints either resolve naturally, or do not respond to medication.

      • It’s got slightly better in France since people have had to register with a ‘médecin traitant’ (family doctor) in order to get the full reimbursement of 70%. In the past, if you went to a doctor and were refused antibiotics or sleeping pills, for example, you just went to another and another until you found one who would give them to you. So some doctors didn’t say no, because they wanted to keep you as a patient for financial reasons. But I’m still horrified about how much medication is prescribed as a matter of course here.

  • With the reduction in the provision of homeopathy, perhaps the number of homeopaths will also decline. If the number of them reduces to zero in France, that dilution of their number in the population is when they will be at their most effective.

  • ” *: Here in the Netherlands, I believe that this number is around 50-60%. Still quite high in my opinion, given that at least 75% of common medical complaints either resolve naturally, or do not respond to medication. ”

    If true, that is quite an admission, and telling of modern conventional medicine. In fact, I’ll cut your statistics nearly in half, and still condemn conventional medicine. If only 40% of medical complaints either resolve naturally or do not respond to medication, they are pill pushers. At 75%, they have achieved fraud status.

    The practice in the USA is much the same, a pat on the back, and some meds in hand.

    • @RG
      The statistics I mention should be used with caution. When e.g. saying that 75% of common medical complaints resolve naturally, then this does not necessarily mean that 75% of patients consulting doctors do not need medication or any other treatment. This is because those self-limiting medical complaints include a lot of conditions for which patients do rarely consult a doctor, e.g. common colds or headaches or lower back pain, to name just a few.

      Yes, I’m pretty sure that in general, medicines are prescribed too readily, but I would reserve the qualification ‘fraud’ for what homeopaths and other quacks do: they claim that their treatments are efficacious, yet research shows that this is not true at all. Anyone who pays a homeopath in the hope that a homeopathic treatment will cure their condition is always SCAMmed.

      • @Richard Rasker

        Well sir, I read it the way I did, because you worded it that way. I was only using what YOU said as a pretext. I’ll quote you to refresh your memory as to what you were referring. I’ll supply your whole text except for the last paragraph, which I already quoted in my first post.

        ” I would add to this that this irrational belief in the efficacy of pills is not limited to homeopathic or herbal products. I remember research finding that in France and Southern-European countries, 98% of visits to GP’s resulted in a prescription – not so much for medical reasons, but because patients expected to get medicines, and felt that their doctor did not take them seriously if they were sent home without medication(*).
        This is also one of the many reasons why it is still fairly common for doctors to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, and also why you can find a pharmacy on almost every street corner in those countries.
        Apparently, the process of getting ‘medicine’ for one’s medical problems is far more important than the actual medicine itself – so maybe those doctors should decide to openly prescribe placebos. This would not only substantially reduce medication cost, but also a huge amount of adverse effects resulting from all this overmedication.”

        So just where were you referring to medical problems not seen by a doctor ? Please don’t infer that I read you wrong, I read what you wrote without error on my part.

        I think we can agree that modern medicine, is largely about prescribing modern pills.

        • “modern medicine is largely about prescribing modern pills”
          except where it isn’t: surgery, psychiatry, physical medicine, rehabilitation, preventive medicine, psychosomatic medicine, diagnostics, radiotherapy, physiotherapy, dietetics, etc.

        • @RG

          I read what you wrote without error on my part.

          Yes, and then I added some nuance to that previous comment, because you showed me that the statistics I mentioned could lead to an overly simplistic and incorrect conclusion. FYI: these are ad hoc comments, not peer-reviewed articles in which every word is carefully weighed.
          My main point was that selling unnecessary and even useless medication also happens in real medicine, NOT that it is the main part of real medicine, as you claim here:

          I think we can agree that modern medicine, is largely about prescribing modern pills.

          You are quite wrong. Yes, modern medication is indeed an important part of good medical practice. If doctors would stop prescribing medicines, lots of people would die, and lots more would needlessly suffer pain and discomfort.
          And yes, we should strive to reduce unnecessary prescriptions, which indeed is a problem that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. But saying that modern medicine is ‘largely about prescribing pills’ because overprescription happens is just silly. One could just as well claim that modern medicine is mostly a haphazard matter of trial-and-error because doctors make mistakes.
          As Edzard also says, modern science-based medicine is much more than just pushing pills.

          And to stay on topic: homeopathy has no place in medicine, simply because it is 100% ineffective in treating medical conditions.

          • @Richard Rasker

            Sir, again… you seriously need to read what YOU wrote, and just let that sink in.

            “I remember research finding that in France and Southern-European countries, 98% of visits to GP’s resulted in a prescription – not so much for medical reasons, but because patients expected to get medicines”.

            You condemn the fraudsters, not me.

            So, if the conversation is off subject, it’s because you led us there. Not me.

  • The more divorced homeopathy is from regular medicine and regular medical doctors, the better. Conventional medicine bastardizes homeopathy when they are in conjunction. Its the rare doctor that can practice both well. Its like trying to ride two horses running in the opposite direction. Most conventional doctors use homeopathy in the same way that they use drugs: this remedy for that “disease” or symptom. Its probably more suppressive, than curative as it should be, in that situation. Conventional medicine sees symptom suppression as success. Homeopathy is curative and suppression is seen as failure, as it should be. The indications for suppression and cure might seem the same to a conventional doctor.

    Economically it will be rough for homeopathy, but in the long run it will be better for the practice of homeopathy.

    • I’ve asked this before and cannot recall an answer: how does any pretence at a medical system (to be briefly charitable I shall include homeopathy here) deal with conditions for which there is no cure, just amelioration of symptoms and managing the inevitable decline (oddly, things like CCF and AF secondary to cardiomyopathy spring to mind here)?

      I would love an explanation for this which doesn’t involve me taking a shed load of medication each day, but I haven’t heard or read anything which is a viable alternative.

      • Conventional medicine has no cures for most chronic diseases. Its not what they do. They suppress/palliate symptoms.

        If you read the homeopathic literature you will see that homeopathy has been carefully documenting cures of “incurable” diseases for over 200 years. It wont take much of your time or money to experience it for yourself, contrary to all the absurd slander here about how homeopaths are just raking in boatloads of money scamming people, written by people completely ignorant of the profession.

        • If you read the homeopathic literature you will see that homeopathic remedies are pure placebos

        • @stan

          Conventional medicine has no cures for most chronic diseases.

          Ah, it seems you understand the meaning of the term ‘chronic disease’. Well done!

          If you read the homeopathic literature you will see that homeopathy has been carefully documenting cures of “incurable” diseases for over 200 years.

          This homeopathic ‘literature’ was recorded by medically incompetent self-deluded fools. And even today, there are still some fools who believe this nonsense. The following is a quote of one such believer I had a discussion with once:

          “Oh, but homeopathy absolutely works, especially for chronic conditions. I’ve been using homeopathy for my chronic cold for the past ten years, with great success!”

        • Go on then, answer my question directly: how does homeopathy cure (or “cure”) cardiomyopathy? Any version of cardiomyopathy? You seem to know the homeopathic literature, so point me to the relevant part.

          • Actually, being a bit bored while waiting for a delivery, I started looking things up.

            What a load of old nonsense…One homeopath, writing in 2020, claims that the average survival rate for dilated ventricular cardiomyopathy is 5 years. No, it really isn’t. Well, it might be if you took what he suggests, most of which, even if taken in measurable quantities, would have sod all effect. Digitalis, well, yes, digoxin has been a standard treatment for years, but there is a well known dosage window, which is well above any homeopathic dilution. His recommended investigations would not adequately reveal dilated cardiomyopathy, so who knows what conditions he is actually dealing with.

            Another one also seems confused about what cardiomyopathy actually is and blethers about “treatments” for other conditions. Digitalis gets a mention again.

            Note that digoxin is sometimes used as part of a conventional pharmaceutical regime, not as the sole option.

            As for other recommendations, no evidence is offered. Gold? Cactus extract? Spigelia? Really? On the basis of what? For avoidance of doubt I have read the research literature on the medications I am taking and found that pretty convincing, to the point of no-brainerdom.

            I gave up after that. Now if our esteemed correspondent can point me to something better.

          • I should also add that if, somehow, homeopathy has achieved the miracle of making heart muscle grow again, why isn’t this all over the medical and scientific literature, all over the Nobel Prizes, why our NICE guidance for such issues don’t mention it, why cardiologists are not beating a path to the relevant doors and all’n’all?

            I know fine well that, at the very least, every cardiologist and cardiac specialist nurse in the UK would be doing so, as it would make their lives so much easier. And many of their patients (self included) would be close behind…

            Or could it be – heaven forfend – that homeopathy cannot actually perform this miracle? And all we have is a load of bluster, while I’d be better off licking my wedding ring or some of my ear rings? I’d need to know if rose gold or white gold is more effective than yer standard 14k…

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