Alexandre Winkler: The evidence behind France’s homeopathy funding ban is flawed

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    [post_content] => In March 2018 the French Health Minister, Agnès Buzyn, invited the HAS (the National Authority for Health) to examine whether the cost of homeopathic remedies should still be covered under the country's social security system.

It followed recurring attacks against homeopathy, its practitioners and users, a trend which has led to condemnation from the country's homeopathy organisations.

The Association Homéo Patients France expressed their strong discontent regarding how homeopathy has been systematically misrepresented and denigrated in the media for the last year. In July 2019, the SNMHF (Syndicat National des Médecins Homéopathes Français, the French union for homeopathic doctors ) also criticised the HAS's aberrant decision which signals contempt for the work of thousands of homeopathic practitioners and totally ignores patients' choices.

In spite of other protests from 15 different bodies representing various parts of the French homeopathic community, more than 1.2m signatures against the looming decision and rallies throughout the country, the minister has now confirmed that, after January 2021, homeopathic remedies will no longer be reimbursed by the state. The year 2020 will be a transition year with reimbursements cut to 15 per cent, a trend which began in 2003 when they were reduced from 65 per cent to 35 per cent.

The main argument is that the available medical and scientific data do not show that homeopathic remedies have any effect on the conditions for which they are used, nor is there any public health benefit derived from the reduced consumption of other drugs as a consequence of patients using homeopathy.

However, while the minister's statement mentioned 800 studies to support her department's conclusion, the HAS decision was actually based on only 37 of them. One striking absence is the EPI3 study that has shown that homeopathic treatment presents a comparable clinical effect to the one achieved with so-called conventional treatments, together with a decreased consumption of allopathic drugs.

The French are following the same modus operandi applied in the other countries, including the UK, US, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Australia where a similar witch-hunt against homeopathy has been taking place.

One part of the fallacy is to refer to previous infamously flawed meta-analyses, the 2005 Shang et al. one being probably the most well-known of them.

Indeed, as Professor Robert Hahn demonstrated in his presentation during the June 2019 HRI conference in London “Several meta-analyses authored by classical scientists and detractors where homeopathic treatment is compared to placebo (water) show evidence of manipulation and bad judgement. To conclude that homeopathy lacks clinical effect, scientists must overlook more than 90 per cent of the available clinical trials. Alternatively, flawed statistical methods must be applied.”

The second part of the strategy is then for governments to refer to these same flawed documents to legitimise decisions against homeopathy and its users. The best examples here are the 2010 UK Parliament Select Committee, the 2015 Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the 2017 European Academies’ Scientific Advisory Council.

At the same HRI conference, Rachel Roberts made a presentation entitled 'Challenging inaccurate influential literature on homeopathy' which focuses on the key scientific flaws of these last two documents and shows that, despite being scientifically highly inaccurate, they are still being cited by decision-makers worldwide.

For more information in general or on the references provided, contact me on awinkleruk@yahoo.com

Alexandre Winkler is a member of the board of directors of the Society of Homeopaths.

Material published in this section of the website does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Society of Homeopaths.
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In March 2018 the French Health Minister, Agnès Buzyn, invited the HAS (the National Authority for Health) to examine whether the cost of homeopathic remedies should still be covered under the country’s social security system.

It followed recurring attacks against homeopathy, its practitioners and users, a trend which has led to condemnation from the country’s homeopathy organisations.

The Association Homéo Patients France expressed their strong discontent regarding how homeopathy has been systematically misrepresented and denigrated in the media for the last year. In July 2019, the SNMHF (Syndicat National des Médecins Homéopathes Français, the French union for homeopathic doctors ) also criticised the HAS’s aberrant decision which signals contempt for the work of thousands of homeopathic practitioners and totally ignores patients’ choices.

In spite of other protests from 15 different bodies representing various parts of the French homeopathic community, more than 1.2m signatures against the looming decision and rallies throughout the country, the minister has now confirmed that, after January 2021, homeopathic remedies will no longer be reimbursed by the state. The year 2020 will be a transition year with reimbursements cut to 15 per cent, a trend which began in 2003 when they were reduced from 65 per cent to 35 per cent.

The main argument is that the available medical and scientific data do not show that homeopathic remedies have any effect on the conditions for which they are used, nor is there any public health benefit derived from the reduced consumption of other drugs as a consequence of patients using homeopathy.

However, while the minister’s statement mentioned 800 studies to support her department’s conclusion, the HAS decision was actually based on only 37 of them. One striking absence is the EPI3 study that has shown that homeopathic treatment presents a comparable clinical effect to the one achieved with so-called conventional treatments, together with a decreased consumption of allopathic drugs.

The French are following the same modus operandi applied in the other countries, including the UK, US, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Australia where a similar witch-hunt against homeopathy has been taking place.

One part of the fallacy is to refer to previous infamously flawed meta-analyses, the 2005 Shang et al. one being probably the most well-known of them.

Indeed, as Professor Robert Hahn demonstrated in his presentation during the June 2019 HRI conference in London “Several meta-analyses authored by classical scientists and detractors where homeopathic treatment is compared to placebo (water) show evidence of manipulation and bad judgement. To conclude that homeopathy lacks clinical effect, scientists must overlook more than 90 per cent of the available clinical trials. Alternatively, flawed statistical methods must be applied.”

The second part of the strategy is then for governments to refer to these same flawed documents to legitimise decisions against homeopathy and its users. The best examples here are the 2010 UK Parliament Select Committee, the 2015 Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the 2017 European Academies’ Scientific Advisory Council.

At the same HRI conference, Rachel Roberts made a presentation entitled ‘Challenging inaccurate influential literature on homeopathy’ which focuses on the key scientific flaws of these last two documents and shows that, despite being scientifically highly inaccurate, they are still being cited by decision-makers worldwide.

For more information in general or on the references provided, contact me on awinkleruk@yahoo.com

Alexandre Winkler is a member of the board of directors of the Society of Homeopaths.

Material published in this section of the website does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Society of Homeopaths.

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