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French pro-homeopathy campaign launches after backlash

Pro-homeopathy groups in France are mounting a defence of their products, as medical authorities debate whether the medicine should be reimbursed and some health professionals condemn the drugs.

The campaign comes one year after 124 doctors published an open letter condemning homeopathy as ineffective, a position that was later supported by drug and pharmacy teaching institutes l’Académie Nationale de Médecine (ANM) and l’Académie Nationale de Pharmacie (ANP).

Both institutes have also condemned all university courses and degrees on the subject, and recommended against reimbursement.

A statement read: “No homeopathic medicine should be reimbursed by l’Assurance Maladie as long as the medical effects [of the drug] have not been shown to be sufficient.”

The furore prompted health minister Agnès Buzyn to call for health authority La Haute Autorité de Santé to make a decision on whether homeopathic drugs should still be reimbursed by the State.

A debate and a decision on the issue is expected in June this year.

In response, pro-homeopathy groups have launched a riposte, with the campaign “Mon Homéo Mon Choix (My Homeopathy, My Choice)”, asking “What if we respected the French public’s choice?”.

Those behind the campaign include world-leading homeopathy manufacturer and advocate, Boiron, based near Lyon; and homeopathy teaching authority CEDH (l’Ecole d’Enseignement de l’Homéopathie).

They argue that a major change on the reimbursement of homeopathy would threaten more than 1,000 jobs, and take away the French public’s choice over what sort of drugs they want to use.

Boiron employs 3,600 people worldwide, including 2,600 people in France. Over 90% of its output is sold in France, with this representing 60% of the company’s total business.

Valérie Lorentz-Poinsot, director general of Boiron, said: “We have conducted a large pharmaco-epidemiological study from 2006 onwards, which shows how much homeopathic medicine is in the public health interest.”

Currently, some homeopathic drugs are reimbursed by up to 30% by l’Assurance Maladie.

In 2017, this cost the State €129.6 million, of the total €19.9 billion drug reimbursement budget, according to figures from public health service la Sécurité Sociale.

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