Doctors have vowed to fight the decision to end reimbursement of homeopathic medicine from January 1, 2021.
Homeopathy reimbursement – currently at 30%, but dropping to 15% in January 2020 – costs the state €126.8million out of a total healthcare spend of €20billion per year.
Health Minister Agnès Buzyn, announcing the decision to end reimbursements, said: “If homeopathy was useful, we would reimburse it. We do it for new innovative medicines, even when they are expensive.”
Seven million people in France used homeopathic treatments last year.
Dr Charles Bentz, president of the Syndicat National des Médecins Homéopathes Français, said none of the minister’s arguments are valid.
He told Connexion: “She began by saying this decision would save money, but homeopathic medicine is cheaper than classic alternatives.
“Then her argument was that homeopathy is ineffective. Studies show it works and patients would not keep coming back for this kind of treatment if it had not worked for them.
“I have prescribed homeo-pathy for 40 years and I have seen results. I started because a treatment cured me.
“One in four doctors prescribe homeopathic medicines, and in France we have the advantage that we are all classically trained and work as GPs but have studied two to three years more to learn homeopathy and can offer this as an alternative treatment, when it is appropriate. It is not suitable for all conditions, especially those that are irreversible, like diabetes, where the only solution is an insulin substitute.
“It cannot cure cancer, but can help with the side-effects.
“It is one of the only medicines suitable for pregnant women. It can be used for the majority of children’s illnesses.
“There are many pathologies where there is no classic cure at present, such as migraines or repetitive urinary infections, and homeopathy is a solution.
“The World Health Organisation has said countries should integrate alternative treatments in their medical systems. France is going in the opposite direction.
“Patients will still ask for it, because it is not expensive and they find it helps. But there will be some who cannot afford it, so we will be introducing a two-tier system. The decision will give homeopathy a bad name. It would be dangerous to leave homeopathy solely to unqualified healers.
“As doctors, we know when and when not to prescribe it.
“2021 is a long way off and ministers come and go, so by then we hope to prove its effectiveness and will continue the fight to make sure homeopathy remains reimbursable.”
The doctors have the support of 45 MPs, who wrote an open letter to newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, calling for the decision to be reversed.
The letter said: “Homeopathy responds to a real medical need. It contributes to reduce medical consumption and therefore helps to fight antibiotic resistance – which is recognised as a problem in terms of human and animal health on an international scale.”