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French GPs call for stop to homeopathy reimbursement

Doctors in France have called for homeopathic medicine to no longer be reimbursed by the state, calling homeopathy an “esoteric practice” that cannot be justified.

Currently in France, homeopathic medicine is reimbursed at 30% by l’Assurance Maladie.

But the national association for teaching GPs, le Collège National des Généralistes Enseignants (CNGE), made the call this week (January 10), saying: “There is no way to justify the reimbursement of these ‘medicines’. There is not even any justification for teaching this kind of practice at university.”

It continued: “It is necessary to abandon these esoteric methods, which belong to the history books, but which continue to trip up patients, and [even] some professionals.”

Homeopathy consists of diluting tiny amounts of certain substances, in the hope that they will help cure related ailments. But many doctors say the practice has no scientific proof.

The subject has been the focus of intense debate in France in recent months.

In March 2018, 124 doctors signed an open letter in national newspaper Le Figaro, attacking “alternative medicine”, including homeopathy.

The letter said that such medicine was “dangerous and fantasist”, and practiced “by charlatans of all kinds, who use the moral authority of the ‘doctor’ title to promote false and illusory therapies”.

Yet, in response, homeopathic doctor union Le Syndicat National des Médecins Homéopathes Français lodged around 60 disciplinarian complaints to medical authority l’Ordre des Médecins, and hotly contested the letter’s claims.

In August, minister for health Agnès Buzyn requested that medical council la Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) conduct an evaluation into the efficiency of homeopathy, and the basis for its reimbursement.

In September, the Lille Faculty of Medicine suspended its diploma in homeopathy, pending clarification of “the position of the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) and national debates on the position of this subject and its teaching”.

Initially expected in February, the results of this evaluation are now scheduled to be released by spring this year.

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