Ending payments a bitter pill for French homeopathy fans

Its the end of an era in France.

Health Minister Agnès Buzyn on Tuesday night announced the government would follow a recommendation by health authorities to end state reimbursement for homeopathic products, which many scientists say have no health benefits.

That may save money and burnish President Emmanuel Macrons standing in the scientific community, but it risks a public backlash and could cost jobs.

According to a survey, a majority of French people swear by homeopathy, and Gérard Collomb, the mayor of Lyon and a member of Macrons La République en Marche party, has warned that ending reimbursement could put hundreds of jobs at risk at Boiron, a local firm that is the worlds biggest manufacturer of homeopathic products.

Opponents of the practice have called homeopathic products “water” or sugar.

While Buzyn had previously pledged to follow the authorities recommendation, it wasnt guaranteed.

“There has to be a balance between the scientific side about the impact of homeopathy and the economic issues, because there are jobs behind it, but also about the well-being of the French population,” government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye said in a TV interview earlier this month.

How we got here

The ‎Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), which assesses the added value of medical therapies for peoples health, said in late June that homeopathic products have not proven sufficiently effective to be reimbursed by the health system.

Refunds for these products run up to 30 percent of their total cost.

That will decrease to 15 percent from January 1, 2020, before being fully scrapped the year after, Buzyn said Tuesday.

Six out of 10 French people said they would continue taking homeopathic products even if reimbursement ends.

Buzyn, who was HAS president before her ministerial appointment in 2017, asked the authority for a scientific opinion on the issue after more than 100 health professionals wrote a column in Le Figaro in March 2018 urging French authorities to stop backing what they called a pseudo-science.

“Homeopathy, like other practices called alternative medicine, is in no way scientific. These practices are based on beliefs that promise a miraculous recovery, without any risks,” the health professionals wrote, citing a 2017 assessment by the European Academies Science Advisory Council, which said there was no solid scientific proof that homeopathic products are effective.

The British Homeopathic Association defines the practice as “a natural form of medicine used by over 200 million people worldwide to treat both acute and chronic conditions.” It is based on the principle of “like cures like,” it says, adding that homeopathic medicines are safe to use, including for babies and pregnant women, and rarely cause side effects.

A 2010 report by the U.K. parliaments science and technology committee, however, noted that homeopathic products had the same effect as dummy, or placebo, treatments, with people feeling better because they believe they are taking a medicine that improves their health.

Many homeopathic remedies consist of natural substances that have been diluted many times in water until theres little, or none, of the original substance left, according to the U.K. National Health Service. These remedies are used for conditions ranging from asthma to depression.

Opponents of the practice have called homeopathic products “water” or sugar.

“Am I ready to accept that my patient doesnt have access to quality dental care, while I can prescribe him €500 of sugar reimbursed at 30 percent?” Pierre De Bremond dArs, a member of the FakeMeds association behind the Figaro column, asked during a TV debate in June.

The group has also called for the EU to change a 2001 law that requires homeopathic products to be registered with national authorities but without the need to prove their therapeutic efficacy.

Money, jobs, people

For some, the French governments review of state reimbursement for homeopathic products is driven purely by an economic motive — to reduce spending.

The health insurance fund paid almost €127 million for homRead More – Source