Homeopathy no longer reimbursed in France from 2021

Homeopathic medicine will no longer be reimbursed by the French State from January 1 2021, the health minister has confirmed, after months of national debate on the issue.

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In 2020, the reimbursement rate will drop from the current 30% to 15%, as “a period of transition” and a means to help people adjust to the change.

In an interview this week, Ms Buzyn said: “I understand the attachment that the French people have for this type of treatments. But [homeopathy] has not proven their benefit to public health nor to current pathologies. We should maybe focus more on the idea that it is not always necessary to take medicine.”

She added: “If homeopathy was useful, we would continue to reimburse it. We do it for new, innovative medicines, even though they are very expensive, but we do that because they are effective.”

Homeopathy reimbursement costs the State 126.8 million - of a total healthcare spend of €20 billion - per year.

Lyon (Rhône)-based homeopathy company Boiron has rejected Ms Buzyn’s decision, calling it “incomprehensible and incoherent”. It said it would “do everything to fight” the decision, and called on President Emmanuel Macron to react.

In a statement, it said: “Laboratoires Boiron has asked to be received by the President urgently. Boiron will do everything to fight against a decision of de-reimbursement which goes contrary to an eminently popular practice.”

Bruno Bonnell, MP for the Rhône, said: "We do not understand the measure from a public health stand - millions of people use homeopathy. We do not understand how it will save money, as people will just turn towards other medicines which will cost the same, and we don't understand the idea of not giving a chance to innovative products."

But Olivier Véran, MP for Isère, said: "This isn't the State pulling back. This money will [instead] go towards reimbursing effective medicine that is sometimes very expensive - to heal cancers, treat infections; to give money to hospitals in need."

Ms Buzyn’s decision comes after months of debate on the issue, and la Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) judging - in May this year - the “insufficient efficiency” of homeopathy, and recommending that the medicine no longer be reimbursed.

Similarly, earlier this year, 124 doctors signed an open letter that called homeopaths “charlatans” and recommended that the State stop reimbursement. They were later sued by the French Homeopaths’ Union.

In September last year, the Lille Faculty of Medicine announced it was suspending its diploma in homeopathy pending the social debate.

Minister Agnès Buzyn had previously said several times that she would follow advice from the HAS on the issue.

In April, Boiron re-iterated that a decision by the government to stop homeopathy reimbursement would threaten more than 1,000 jobs in France - and potentially many others abroad - and launched a campaign called “Mon Homéo Mon Choix (My Homeopathy, My Choice)”.

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