The French who so wish, and are still many, will be able to continue using homeopathic products. But not at the expense of all taxpayers. The French Health will stop funding homeopathy in 2021. This has been decided by the Government of Emmanuel Macron, after receiving the strong report from an independent specialized commission that, after a year of analysis of all the published studies, has confirmed that homeopathic products "have not proven scientifically enough to justify being reimbursed".
The end of the financing of homeopathy will be progressive: in 2020, the reimbursement of the price of these products will be reduced to 15%. As of January 1, 2021, not a single cent will be returned, according to the decision communicated this Wednesday by the Ministry of Health. Until now, the French Health Service returned 30% of the cost of almost 1,200 homeopathic products, something that last year cost the State 126.8 million euros. They were subsidized since 1984.
The decision not to close the financing of these products at a stroke, despite the scientific evidence received, is explained by the strong roots of homeopathy in France, the second country behind India where these products are used the most and also headquarters of one of the giants of this market, the Boiron laboratory. All of 2020, the last year of reimbursement -although very weak- of homeopathic products, will be used to make "pedagogy and accompany patients" so that they think about treatments and, eventually, look for other alternatives if they wish, explained the Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, in an interview with Le Parisien. Also, he said, "it will leave the industrialists time to organize."
Sample of the thorny issue in a country where a large number of doctors prescribes homeopathic products every day – 76% of French people have ever used them in their lives and 74% believe they are "effective" according to the latest surveys – It is the time that the Government has taken to reach this decision. It has only done so after receiving, at the end of June, the overwhelming response of the High Authority of Health (HAS, for its acronym in French), which in a devastating report, after analyzing for almost a year all existing studies on the 1,200 homeopathic products still reimbursed, concluded that these "have not proven scientifically enough to justify reimbursement" in front of the placebos with which they were compared.
Buzyn sued this study after, a year ago, began to question in France strongly the effectiveness of homeopathy, following a tough platform published by more than a hundred doctors who criticized the "fantastic promises and the unproven efficacy of medicines called alternatives, such as homeopathy". The fact, in addition, is that the so-called homeopathic medicines enjoyed an anomaly: they are the only ones that had not had to undergo any efficacy test since the Second World War, according to HAS remembered at the time. According to Minister Buzyn, this is due to a decision made by her predecessor in 1984, the socialist Georgina Dufoix, who decided to reimburse her without going through the conditions established for it, that is, that the health authority evaluates its effectiveness and reviews it. every five or ten years. This was done, says the minister, in order to "develop the homeopathic industry", which in France moves more than 600 million euros each year.
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