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France to stop reimbursing patients for homeopathy

Study concludes treatment has no proven benefit

The French government has announced it will stop reimbursing patients for homeopathic treatment from 2021.

It comes after a major national study concluded the alternative medicine had no proven benefit.

According to the Guardian, France’s health minister Agnès Buzyn said she had made the decision after a damning verdict on homeopathy by the national health authority in June.

Refunds paid by French social security – currently 30% of the treatment – will be phased down to 15% in 2020 and then to zero in 2021.

France’s approach is being closely followed in Germany, where around 7,000 homeopathic doctors are registered.

In Britain, the NHS decided in 2017 to stop funding homeopathic care, while public health systems in other EU countries such as Sweden, Belgium or Austria do not support the treatment.

Buzyn acknowledged the move could prove unpopular in France and emphasised that it would not stop doctors prescribing homeopathic medicines or patients from buying them.

French company Boiron, the world leader in homeopathic products, denounced the move as “incomprehensible and incoherent”. It asked for an urgent meeting with the president, Emmanuel Macron, and said it would “do everything to fight” the decision.

Official figures from 2018 show social security paid back €126.8m (£114m) for homeopathic treatment out of an overall total of €20bn for medicines that year.