The European Commission will not change the directive on the use of homeopathic products in the Union. The Spanish government asked to tweak the text that regulates this therapy -whose properties are not scientifically endorsed- during an informal meeting held in September in Vienna when considering the current regulation "a risk to the health of citizens". Brussels does not share that opinion, and has reported that it does not fit into its plans to modify it. "The current framework finds a balance between guaranteeing quality and safety and informing consumers, including healthcare professionals," said Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, in response. to the questions of the socialist MEP José Blanco.
The battle is fought around the use of the expression homeopathic medicine in the European directive. The Spanish Government sees a risk to associate this term with a therapy whose efficacy is not proven. And he believes that he violates the definition of medication collected in legislation, where it is specified that to be "it must have curative or preventive properties". The pressure of Spain seeks to avoid confusion over the properties of these products, especially after cases of deaths have been recorded for choosing homeopathy as an alternative to traditional medicine.
The EU Executive considers that the European law is sufficiently guaranteed and is not to blame for any erroneous interpretations. The Commissioner of Health recalled that the directive prevents producers from associating "statements of a clinical nature with homeopathic medicines without their therapeutic efficacy being demonstrated". And the guarantee that everyone includes the notification of "homeopathic medicine without approved therapeutic indications", together with a warning for the user to consult a doctor if the symptoms persist, is sufficient guarantee. Also, remember that it is the national governments that must ensure that there is no misleading advertising.
The Commission says it is aware that Spain is concerned about the increasingly documented phenomenon of patients replacing medical treatment with homeopathic products, but believes that the information offered to the client is the ideal one, and its focus is on ensure that your intake is not a danger. It does not address, however, the problem of the patients who take it as a replacement for another medicine endorsed by dozens of studies. "Homeopathic and conventional medicines must meet the same manufacturing, distribution and pharmacological surveillance requirements. In the absence of clinical data, producers can not place therapeutic claims on their products"insists Brussels.
According to Andriukaitis, Spain is the only EU country that has requested a modification of the standard. But something is moving in the Member States, and it seems a matter of time before that loneliness is reversed. The United Kingdom has stopped funding homeopathy in public health. France, which currently subsidizes 30% of its cost, is redefining its policy in this regard. The Ministry of Health has ordered the so-called High Health Authority to examine the advisability of continuing with payments. This, given the breadth of the task, has announced that it will delay its response from February to spring. And in Italy, the case of the seven-year-old boy who died from complications of otitis treated with homeopathic products and not with antibiotics.
Although Brussels is not willing to correct the law, in no case is it opposed to countries launching information campaigns on their own. "Member States are still free to adopt actions at the national level in order to raise awareness about the characteristics of homeopathic medicines," says Andriukaitis.