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An unpopular choice: French healthcare system will no longer reimburse homeopathic medicines

Brussels, 12 July 2019 The recent decision by the French government to discontinue the reimbursement of homeopathic medicines through its social security system from 2021 will be unpopular and, in the long-term, prove to be short-sighted.

The debate on homeopathy has been raging in France for the last twelve months; the public, supported by doctors, politicians, scientists and the companies, have declared themselves, time and again, in favour of homeopathy, with 74% opposed to disbursement and over 1.2 million people signing a petition to maintain the current status of these products.

These medicines are part of a long-established European medical tradition, with Europe the global centre of expertise for these products. Millions of European citizens choose to use them for their health care and demand is growing. This is nowhere more the case than in France, the world leader in homeopathic medicines, where 77% of French have used homeopathy, 72% are convinced of its benefits and over 40% have been using it for more than 10 years.

Across Europe, patients express very high levels of satisfaction with these treatments, attracted by its effectiveness and high safety profile. Homeopathic medicines can be prescribed alongside other forms of medicine and adverse drug reactions are reported only very rarely.

Studies show that homeopathy offers valuable treatment options in support of EU health policy goals on multimorbidity, polypharmacy, chronic diseases and an ageing population. It can contribute to safe and effective strategies to reduce the use of antibiotics.

Condemning the decision, David Reckeweg-Lecompte, President of ECHAMP says, “This decision is out of step with public opinion and with the growing preference for these products across Europe. In ignoring the choice of its people, the French government is also overlooking the important benefits homeopathic medicinal products bring to public health and the role they play in face of major health challenges not just in France, but in the rest of Europe and round the world. Whatever their status, it is likely that the French, alongside millions of other Europeans, will continue to choose these products for their healthcare.”

Notes for editors

  1. France is the world leader in homeopathic medicines, with an estimated 36% share of the market in the European Union in 2016 (ECHAMP 2018). 77% of French have used homeopathy; over 40% have been using it for more than 10 years. (Les Français et l’homéopathie, Ipsos, November 2018)
  2. A recent survey of doctors and patients showed that 72% of the French population is convinced of the benefits of homeopathy. (Odexa Baromètre santé 360, January 2019)
  3. An active campaign in France to defend homeopathy, MonHomeoMonChoix, bringing together patients, doctors, scientists and industry, clocked up over 1.2 million signatures for its petition.
  4. Homeopathy is used in 100 countries around the world (World Health Organisation Global Report on Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 2019). A European Commission report informs that three out of four Europeans know about homeopathy and of these 29% use it for their health care. Market studies demonstrate the widespread use of homeopathy in the EU, including 77% of French, 62% of Austrians, 56% of Germans and 33% of Spanish, as well as 69% of Belgian households. 70% of users or more are satisfied or very satisfied with the outcome. (ECHAMP 2019)
  5. With over 40 full company members from 18 European countries, ECHAMP, the European Coalition on Homeopathic & Anthroposophic Medicinal Products, works to ensure that its members can meet the demand from users and prescribers across the EU for these products.  It advocates in favour of an appropriate regulatory environment in the EU. www.echamp.eu

For all press enquiries please contact Amandine Oset on (00 32) 2 649 9440 or e-mail media@echamp.eu

Last updated on 12 Jul 2019