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Following the debate: homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine

17 Feb 2020

Over the past few months, there have been a few developments and initiatives that have kept the debate on homeopathy alive in the media. In this regular news item, we bring you a summary of recent news and links to some of the resources that seek to bring a better balance to the discussions.

  • In France: the homeopathic community continues to fight back in the wake of the decision by the French government to discontinue reimbursement of homeopathy; a new book, “Liberté, Egalité, Santé”, by Valérie Lorentz-Poinsot, Director General of Laboratoires Boiron, tells the story of the mobilisation of the patients, prescribers and supporters of homeopathy in their campaign to protect homeopathic medicines in France. In October, Vivement dimanche (France 2 Sunday morning programme) showcased a new film, ‘Homéopathie, une autre voie’ (Homeopathy, a different way), which is doing the rounds in France. The papers also report on the decision by manufacturers Boiron and Lehning to challenge the procedure which led to the government’s decision. In November, there was coverage of a colloquium at the Assemblée Nationale, at which Professor Luc Montagnier, French virologist and 2008 Nobel prize winner, called on the French government to reconsider its decision.
  • Homeopathy has been on the political agenda in Germany; there are multiple reports (and here) on the German Green party’s attempt to clarify the question of the financing of homeopathy and the difficulty its MPs have face on reaching a consensus; Hamre and Kiene in their scientific assessment (available in English, French and German) explain why the three central statements of the draft motion contrast with relevant scientific evidence. And at the same time, the Bavarian government have commissioned a study on whether the use of homeopathic medicines can reduce the use of antibiotics.
  • In the UK, pressure on homeopathy continued in October last year, with widespread media reporting (and here and here and here and here) that Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has called for the Society of Homeopathy (homeopathic practitioners) to have its accreditation revoked, amid concerns that some of its members are spreading misinformation about vaccines. This was followed up by a journalist ‘sting’ that attempted, largely unsuccessfully, to confirm this thesis. 4Homeopathy, the alliance of associations of the homeopathic community in the UK, issued a joint statement clarifying that media reports have incorrectly linked homeopathy to the anti-vaccination movement, and confirming that registered homeopaths work to a Code of Practice which advises that questions about vaccination should be deferred to  medical professionals such as GPs. David Tredinnick MP shared his positive experience of homeopathy in a debate (and here) in the House of Commons, reporting on its success in India.
  • October saw coverage in the US and elsewhere of the consultation by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on its revised draft guidance document for FDA staff and industry (first version issued in December 2017), describing how it intends to prioritise the enforcement and regulatory actions for homeopathic products marketed in the US without required FDA approval. The comments period has recently been extended until 23 March. The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists (AAHP), the US manufacturers’ association, largely welcomes the revised guidelines, saying they “will not affect the vast majority of products that are manufactured and labelled according to standards.”
  • In Italy in October, a meeting in the Italian Parliament (Senato) on homeopathy attracted a large audience and institutional presence, including Senator Virginia La Mura. 
  • The international debate continued with some high profile events: the LMHI (LIga Medicorum Homoeopathica Internationale) conference in Sorrento in September on the theme ‘Homeopathy, The medicine of the future from the ancient heart’ addressed a wide range of topics including preclinical and clinical research, veterinary dentistry and pharmacy medicine and agro-homeopathy; and the European Committee for Homeopathy (ECH) and Société Savante d’Homéopathie (SSH) event in Paris in November, “Homeopathy’s role and value to address antimicrobial resistance’ (presentations available). 
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