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16% of Italians use homeopathy once a year

14 Jun 2016

New data on the Italian market have been released by Omeoimprese, the Italian association of manufacturers of homeopathic medicines.                                                

A market survey carried out in February 2016 by EMG Acqua shows that more than 80% of Italians know of homeopathy and more than 20% use it at least once a year, just over 16% of the total population. These numbers show consistency with the survey carried out in 2012 (Doxapharma 2012). Those who use homeopathy have been doing so for an average of 6.5 years. In general users use these medicines more frequently, with a growth in use of 2.8%.

The number of Italians who are familiar with homeopathic products is high in Italy even though both the costs of the products and specialist visits are paid for entirely by the patient, the products do not bear any therapeutic indications and all forms of advertising are prohibited.

60.4% of users of homeopathic medicines are women, mostly aged between 35 and 54. More than half (53.7%) has a higher education. Those who live in North West Italy have the greatest familiarity with homeopathic medicine (34.4%) followed by the North East (21.9%).

22.6% of users were introduced to homeopathy by a pharmacist; others were introduced by family and friends (21.7%) , their general practitioner (15.3%), or by a specialist (14.1%). 40.6% go to their pharmacist for information on homeopathic medicines, while 34.6% expect their general practitioners to provide information on homeopathy.

Homeopathic medicines are most frequently used for rhinitis, colds and flus (63.6%), joint or muscle pain (30.4%), allergies and respiratory problems (21.8%). The most popular medicine is arnica, used by 14.4% of Italians. Growth in use of homeopathic medicines is particularly evident in the treatment of children, with almost three out of ten Italians using them for children, in particular from six years upwards and especially for respiratory infections. A lack of side effects and contraindications (18.2%) is perceived to be the biggest benefit of homeopathic remedies, while 15.5% use them because they are non-toxic and 11.9% because they perceive them to be particularly suitable for less severe disorders such as anxiety, stress, cystitis and gastritis.

At the same time, however, 18.6% of respondents still think that homeopathy is less effective than traditional medicine. 17.5% of respondents think that the cost of homeopathic medicines is too high.

The majority of Italians (57%) are aware that complementary medicines can solve many health problems and this is true even amongst those who do not use complementary medicine; 48% consider complementary medicine useful for all purposes. 4.5% of the Italian population rely on complementary treatment on a daily or weekly basis.

Omeoimprese is the Italian association of manufacturers of homeopathic medicines. It represents 18 Italian and foreign companies in Italy. The survey was published by Omeimprese and commissioned from EMG Acqua. It is based on more than 2,000 interviews with a representative sample of the adult Italian population.

Omeoimprese report that the turnover of its members grew by 3% in 2015 compared to the previous year, reaching €92.6 m (ex-factory), with some companies growing by as much as 18%. In-market sales for homeopathic and anthroposophic medicines in Italy are worth over €300 million, confirming Italy as the third largest market for these products in Europe; however this shows a slight decline (-1%) on 2014.

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