Second EU Homeopathy Day 2 April 2009

On 2nd April the 2nd EU Homeopathy Day took place in the European Parliament. 'Homeopathy for a healthier Europe - Because it works for me!' was the slogan. The aim was to raise the awareness amongst politicians and policy makers on the important role that homeopathy plays in promoting health in individual patients and how it can contribute to European healthcare. The seminar was hosted by Marian Harkin, an Irish Member of the European Parliament. The seminar was very successful. More than 100 people had registered. Among the audience were 14 members of the European Parliament (or their assistants), 18 representatives from European regions or countries and some journalists. There were several colleagues from the homeopathic world (although this was not the target group), i.e. from Hungary, Russia, and Italy.[It was not possible to schedule the seminar for 10 April, Hahnemann's birthday, because the Parliament was not to convene in Brussels that week]
Speakers were:
- Helen Llewellyn, a patient from the UK who gave an impressive, intimate account of her healing journey (using homeopathic Lilium tigrinum in endometriosis).
- Professor Jaap Sijmons, Professor of Health Law who gave a very detailed, extensive and useful presentation about patients' rights.
- Professor George Lewith, Professor of Health Research who gave a fascinating, lively and focused presentation on the integration of CAM and conventional medicine.
- Dr Elio Rossi, homeopathic doctor, Regional Commission on CAM of Tuscany and a consultant of the Regional Ministry of Health of Tuscany who gave a very detailed and impressive presentation on how the Italian region of Tuscany has integrated homeopathy, acupuncture and herbal medicine into the healthcare system with equal access to conventional and complementary treatments. The seminar was moderated by Dr Ton Nicolai, President of the European Committee for Homeopathy.
Homeopathy for a healthier Europe - 'Because it works for me!' 1. Facts and figures • 65% of Europeans report they have used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); 30-50% use CAM as self-support and 10-20% have seen a CAM practitioner in the last year. • Homeopathy is a long-standing European therapeutic tradition with an overall positive safety record first established over two hundred years ago; it is used today by more than 100 million Europeans and enjoys continuous growth in popularity with patients, doctors and practitioners. • Three out of four Europeans know about homeopathy and of these 29% use it for their own healthcare. • 150,000 doctors have taken training in CAM in Europe. • There are 54,000 specialised homeopathic medical doctors and practitioners in Europe. • Between 25% and 40% of European healthcare practitioners prescribe homeopathy occasionally, 7% on a regular basis. • Thousands of homeopathic medicinal products have been safely on the market in Europe for many decades; these products are low risk, mostly derived from natural substances and usually highly diluted. • The industry for homeopathic and anthroposophic medicinal products represents 1% of the European pharmaceutical market and 7% of the European non-prescription market (In 2005 this was equal to €1 771 million at consumer prices). • Sales of homeopathic and anthroposophic medicines in Europe are growing by an average 5% a year. • The top ten EU Member States in terms of sales volumes are France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Great Britain and Poland. France has the highest consumption per head of homeopathic medicinal products in Europe with an average spend of €7 per citizen in 2005. Poland is the biggest player in the CEEC Member States in terms of sales. • 8 out of 27 EU Member States have issued national policies on CAM including homeopathy (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom); other EU Member States have specific regulations on homeopathy (Latvia, Lithuania, Romania); some Member States have delegated that task to the medical associations. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Latvia homeopathy is recognised as an additional medical qualification by the national medical associations. In France, Spain, Italy and Greece the national medical associations are favourably disposed to homeopathy; in France and Italy they have asked the government for legislation in this field. • Studies demonstrate that GPs who integrated homeopathy in their practice achieved better results for similar cost. A French Government Report showed that the total cost of homeopathic care per physician was approximately half of the total cost of the care provided by conventional physicians, with the overall cost per patient under homeopathic care 15% less. • Homeopathic medicines cost considerably less than conventional drugs; in France they represent 5% of all medicines prescribed by physicians, and only 1.2% of all drug reimbursements.
2. EU initiatives January – March 2009 Several Parliamentary Questions have been tabled asking the Commission to explain the poor functioning of the legislation for homeopathic medicinal products in the Community. (see http://www.europarl.europa.eu/QP-WEB/application/search.do)
23 October 2007 Second Program of Community Action in the Field of Health (2008-2013). The EP amended the Commission proposal and included complementary medicine in the scope of the Program. “The Program should recognise the importance of a holistic approach to public health and take into account, where appropriate and where there is scientific or clinical evidence about its efficacy, complementary and alternative medicine in its actions”. European funding will be open for studies on the contribution of complementary medicine to public health.
18 December 2006 Seventh Community Framework Research Program (2007-2013). The EP amended the Commission proposal and included complementary medicine in the scope of the Program. European funding will be open for studies on the delivery of complementary health care services.
17 December 2003 EP decision Second Reading on the adoption of Directive 2004/27/EC and 2004/24/EC amending Directive 2001/83/EC: Rejection of all the amendments that could have solved the problems of homeopathic medicinal products because of lack of time expressed by the Commission due to the accession of the new Member States in May 2004 and the end of the term of the Parliament in June 2004.
2 October 2002 Report European Parliament - Environmental Committee on the proposal for a EP and Council directive amending Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use Rapporteur Françoise Grossetête mainly repeated the amendments of the EP proposed in 1998 during the creation of Directives 2001/82/EC and 2001/83/EC.
28 October 1998 Report on the Commission report from July 1997 to the EP and the Council on the application of Directives 92/73/EEC and 92/74/EEC on homeopathic medicinal products. The report and the proposed resolution underlined all conclusions of the European Commission and asked for expansion of research funding. This report is a critical assessment of the legal regime brought about by Directives 92/73/EEC and 92/74/EEC.
29 May 1997 EP Resolution on the status of non-conventional medicine of the European Parliament. The Resolution related to MEPs Collins and Lannoye was voted with a very large majority. In the conclusion the Parliament calls on the Commission to launch a process of recognizing non-conventional medicine.
3. Homeopathy: cost-effectiveness
Although a full-scale economic evaluation of homeopathy has not yet taken place, there are a number of studies and reports that point to its cost-effectiveness •Two studies of non-randomised, parallel-group, design recorded the outcomes and costs of treatment by German(1) and French(2) General Practitioners (GPs) who integrated homeopathy in their practice, compared with those who did not. The results of the two studies are congruent: GPs who integrated homeopathy in their practice achieved better results for similar cost. (See below for study details).
• A 1991 French Government Report(3) showed a significantly reduced cost from homeopathic care versus conventional medical care. The total cost of homeopathic care per physician was approximately half of the total cost of the care provided by conventional physicians. However, because homeopathic physicians, on average, saw significantly fewer patients, the overall cost per patient under homeopathic care was still a significant 15% less. It is also interesting to note that these savings appear to increase the longer a physician has been using homeopathy.
• A 1996 study of 130,000 prescriptions(4) confirmed the results of the 1991 French government report (above) and suggested significant benefits and savings as a result of homeopathic treatment. This survey also noted that the number of paid sick leave days by patients under the care of homeopathic physicians were 3.5 times less (598 days/year) than patients under the care of general practitioners (2,017 days/year). These figures suggest further benefit and savings to the homeopathic approach to care.
•Homeopathic medicines are reimbursable under the French health care system, in part because they cost considerably less than conventional drugs (on average, the cost of a homeopathic medicine is 7 French francs (€1) versus 23.00 French francs (€3.5) for conventional drugs). Although homeopathic medicines in France represent 5% of all medicines prescribed by physicians, they represent only 1.2% of all drug reimbursements due to the lower cost per prescription.(5)

Witt et al. (2005)(6) This study compared homeopathic and conventional GPs’ outcomes in chronic diagnoses commonly treated in general practice (adults – headache, low back pain, depression, insomnia, sinusitis; children – atopic asthma, dermatitis, rhinitis). They collected data on symptom severity as rated by patient and doctor, quality of life and costs of consultations, medication, physiotherapy, hospitalisation, sick pay and medical devices at 6 and 12 months. The study was sponsored by a Krankenkasse (health insurance company), which also provided the economic data. 493 patients were treated by 101 homeopathic and 59 conventional GPs. The patients treated by the two groups of GPs were generally similar, although those who attended homeopathic GPs generally had a higher level of education; adjustment was made for these differences in the analysis. The conclusion was that patients who sought homeopathic treatment had better outcomes for similar cost. •Trichard, Chaufferin & Nicoloyannis (2005)(7) This study compared two treatment approaches (‘homeopathic strategy’ vs. ‘antibiotic strategy’) used in routine medical practice by allopathic and homeopathic GPs in the management of recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in 499 18-month to 4-year-old children. The GPs using homeopathy had significantly better results in terms of clinical effectiveness, complications, parents’ quality of life and time lost from work, for lower cost to social security. •Van Wassenhoven and Ives (2004) This study gathered data about routine homeopathic general practice from eight general medical practices in Belgium were physicians were homeopathic doctors. Compared to previous conventional treatment, patients reported that consultations were longer but cost less. Prescription costs (including conventional medicines) were one third the general practice average. Patients were very satisfied with their homeopathic treatment, both they and their physicians recorded significant improvement. Costs of homeopathic treatment were significantly lower than conventional treatment and many previously prescribed drugs were discontinued. •Smallwood et al (2005)(8) This study investigated the potential contribution of mainstream complementary therapies to healthcare in the UK. To the extent that homeopathic treatments are effective, they appear to offer the potential for substantial cost savings, particularly in drugs bills for primary care. The evidence also indicates fewer adverse effects that conventional remedies and a reduced need for follow-up appointments.

Notes:
1 Witt C, Keil T, Selim D, Roll S, Vance W, Wegscheider K, Willich SN (2005). Outcome and costs of homeopathic and conventional treatment strategies: a comparative cohort study in patients with chronic disorders. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 13:79–86. 2 Trichard M, Chaufferin G Nicoloyannis N (2005). Pharmacoeconomic comparison between homeopathic and antibiotic treatment strategies in recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in children. Homeopathy, 94:3–9. 3 French Government Report: Social Security Statistics, CNAM (National Inter-Regulations System) 61, January, 1991. 4 Caisse Nationale de l’Assurance Maladie des Travailleurs Salaris, 1996.
5 See footnote 4. 6 See footnote 1. 7 See footnote 2. 8 Smallwood C (2005). The role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the NHS – an Investigation into the Potential Contribution of Mainstream Complementary Therapies to Healthcare in the UK.
Contact EU Homeopathy Day office - +32 2 649 94 40 Sônia Costa - euhomeopathyday@echamp.eu / Antonia Gorence - antonia.gorence@bm.com
Source: email from Dr. Ton Nicolai, ECH President.