In France and across Europe, the homeopathic industry is mobilising to persuade the French Government to reject the recommendation of its top health agency to end state reimbursement of homeopathic medicines.
Last week, the Haute Autorité de santé (HAS) published a long-awaited report into alternative medicine, which concluded that there is insufficient evidence of efficacy for homeopathy to justify state expenditure. Its advice to the French government is that homeopathic treatments should no longer be eligible for the national medicines reimbursement scheme.
The news has sent shockwaves through the homeopathic industry. Currently, three laboratories – French-owned Boiron and Lehning, and the Swiss homeopathic specialist Weleda – receive reimbursements from France’s social security system (worth €127 million).
Boiron, the world’s biggest homeopathic business (with revenues of €604 million), complained that HAS’s negative opinion on the reimbursement of homeopathic medicines “was delivered in record time and does not take into account the specificity of homeopathic medicines”.
In a joint statement issue, the three companies say that in recent weeks “homeopathy has been the subject of unfounded and totally incomprehensible attack”. They also argue that the low average price of reimbursable homeopathic medicine is less than a third of the average reimbursement for all medicines, suggesting that ending support for homeopathy would result in a switch to more expensive alternatives.
Boiron, whose shares were suspended on news of HAS’s opinion, has also warned that ending reimbursements could lead to a loss of over 1,000 jobs from a French workforce of 2,500.
A campaign to mobilise support from French consumers has been launched, using the hashtag #MoiHomeoMoiChoix, and a petition has gathered well over a million signatures