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Homeopathy: France should not reimburse, report says

Homeopathic medicine should no longer be reimbursed by the French State, as it provides “insufficient medical service”, health authority La Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) has recommended this week.

The HAS made the conclusion after completing a study on 1,200 homeopathic medicines. It said that these medicines “provide insufficient medical service”, and recommended that they no longer be reimbursed at all by the State.

They are currently reimbursed up to 30%. The HAS has sent its findings to a number of leading homeopathic medicine manufacturers, to inform them officially of its position, it said.

A decision from the HAS on the reimbursement position of homeopathic drugs has been long awaited by the medical profession. Health minister Agnès Buzyn asked the HAS to consider the issue in the face of growing criticism of homeopathy in recent months and years.

A definitive decision is expected in June.

Earlier this year, 124 doctors re-opened the controversial debate by signing an open letter that called homeopaths “charlatans” and criticised the state’s continued reimbursement of the products.

Now, homeopathic laboratories will have a chance to respond to the HAS findings.

Already, manufacturer Boiron has said that 1,000 jobs will be threatened if the State decides to no longer reimburse the medicine.

According to their figures, homeopathy only costs the State Sécurité Sociale €130 million per year, compared to €20 billion for regular medicine.

They say that at the very least, homeopathic medicines offer a placebo effect.

In a joint statement, the homeopathic laboratories Boiron, Lehning and Weleda said that they were concerned to see “an opinion from an independent agency that should have been kept confidential” being reported in the national media.

Boiron has said that it has not yet received any notification of the advice given by the HAS. The company has temporarily “suspended” its share price.

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