The French government has announced it will stop reimbursing patients for homeopathic treatment from 2021 after a major national study concluded the alternative medicine had no proven benefit.
The health minister, Agnès Buzyn, a former doctor who has vowed to place scientific rigour at the heart of policy, said she had made the decision after a damning verdict on homeopathy by the national health authority in June.
Buzyn said the refunds paid by French social security – currently 30% of the treatment – would be phased down to 15% in 2020 and then to zero in 2021.
“I have decided to start the process for complete non-reimbursement,” Buzyn told Le Parisien newspaper.
France’s National Authority for Health (HAS) concluded at the end of June that there was no benefit to the medicine, saying it had “not scientifically demonstrated sufficient effectiveness to justify a reimbursement”.
France’s approach is being closely followed in Germany, where around 7,000 homeopathic doctors are registered.
Karl Lauterbach, an MP specialising in health issues for the centre-left SPD, the junior partner in Germany’s ruling coalition, has pressed for a law banning refunds for homeopathy.
In Britain, the National Health Service 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.
The NHS chief, Simon Stevens, said in 2017 that homeopathy was “at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds”, while the NHS warns that anyone can practise as a homeopath, even if they have no qualifications or experience.