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European Coalition on Homeopathic & Anthroposophic Medicinal Products

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Following the debate: homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine

14 Oct 2019

Homeopathy has continued to be the subject of significant media coverage in recent months, with one story dominating the debate – the French government’s decision to stop funding the reimbursement of homeopathic medicinal products. Media items across Europe examined the pros and cons of the decision and both Germany and Luxemburg responded to the news by reconfirming their commitment to uphold the status quo for these medicines in their countries. In this round up of the most prominent stories that have been in the media in recent months, we go behind the headlines to share some of the facts.

  • The most striking story for the sector in recent months is that Australia’s leading research institute, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), appears to be back tracking on its position on homeopathy in response to intense public pressure to put the record straight; this came in the form firstly of an admission from the chief executive that the findings of the 2015 homeopathy report had been misrepresented and that, contrary to some claims, the review did not conclude that homeopathy was ineffective; and secondly in the release, after many years, of the suppressed 2012 report, which found ‘encouraging’ evidence that homeopathy is effective for some medical conditions - far more positive than the 2015 review. The story has been widely reported in the sector and on social media.
  • In July, following much debate, the French government’s announcement that it will stop funding the reimbursement of homeopathic medicinal products from January 2021 generated headlines across France and the rest of Europe (also here, here  and here and much coverage in Italy and Switzerland). This decision, which was referred by the health minister to President Macron, is at odds with public opinion in France, 72% of whom are convinced of the benefits of homeopathy. The campaign to defend the status quo was supported by doctors, politicians (and here), scientists, the public and manufacturers with a petition reaching nearly 1.3 million signatures. Contributing to the debate were some high quality materials (and here) explaining the benefits of homeopathy.
  • The French decision fuelled a similar discussion in Germany (see also here and here and, in English, here) about the future status of homeopathy; however, as clarified by a joint statement from industry bodies BPI and BAH, such a decision is not transferable to Germany, where non-prescribed homeopathic medicinal products have not been reimbursed since 2004. September saw multiple media reports (and here and in English) on the announcement by the German health minister, Jens Spahn, that homeopathic medicinal products will continue to be reimbursed by health insurance companies.
  • In the same period, Luxemburg also announces (and here) its intention to maintain the reimbursement status of homeopathic medicines.
  • New research commissioned by Omeoimprese in Italy confirming strong support for homeopathy from opinion formers in Italy generated multiple articles in the Italian media.
  • Ongoing moves in Spain to push for changes in European legislation as part of a national plan against what they call ‘pseudotherapies’ have been reported in both the Spanish and European media
  • In Belgium, the homeopathic doctors continue to speak out in favour of reimbursement of homeopathy, releasing several YouTube clips (here, here, here and here) on homeopathy in English and French.
  • In June, the announcement that Prince Charles, HRH Prince of Wales, had agreed to act as the Patron of the UK’s Faculty of Homeopathy generated significant headlines in the English speaking media (and here). Some balanced coverage of the news was found on ITV (national TV) and here and in the American press, however, other reporting was critical of his decision (and here); such reporting was mostly simply repeating a statement from the Good Thinking Society, a well-known opponent of homeopathy.