Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by the European Committee for Homeopathic Medicine in Europe (HO 18)



  1.1  Over the past 30-40 years homeopathy has benefited from growing demand both from doctors and from the public in the majority of the European countries. According to a survey by European Commission order in 1996 three Europeans out of four know about homeopathy and of these about 30% use it for their health care. In the European Union there are approximately 50,000 physicians who have taken a training course in homeopathy. Many more doctors in Europe prescribe homeopathic medicines without any homeopathic training: approximately 25-40 % of the GPs from time to time, 6-8 % of them on a more regular basis.

  1.2  Among the different forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), in particular homeopathy has a form of legal recognition in certain European countries, an organisational structure at European level, self-regulatory mechanisms, and a certain level of scientific credibility. Homeopathy is being increasingly recognised as a potential asset to European health care. Resolutions on CAM have been adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, EU Directives oblige the Member States to register homeopathic medicinal products, and homeopathic medicinal products are being included in the European Pharmacopoeia.

  Earlier this year the Swiss people in a national referendum voted in favour of a constitutional article for complementary medicine. Switzerland is the first country in Europe to set out in the constitution, authority for the state and constituent states (cantons) to take complementary medicine into consideration in the public health service. On this constitutional basis, parliament and the authorities have to admit doctors trained in anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy, neural therapy, herbal medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine into the obligatory public health insurance system, and create national diplomas for CAM therapists without a full medical education.


  2.1  The European Parliament has taken the position that homeopathy—as well as other branches of non-conventional medicine-, should be recognised. Its resolution of 29 May 1997 (A4-0075/97) called on the European Commission

    (a) to launch a process of recognizing non-conventional medicine and, to this end, to take the necessary steps to encourage the establishment of appropriate committees;

    (b) to carry out a thorough study into the safety, effectiveness, area of application and the complementary or alternative nature of all non-conventional medicines and to draw up a comparative study of the various national legal models to which non-conventional medical practitioners are subject;

    (c) to make, in formulating European legislation on non-conventional forms of medicine, a clear distinction between non-conventional medicines which are "complementary" in nature and those which are "alternative" medicines in the sense that they replace conventional medicine;

and calls on the Council of Ministers after completion of the preliminary work referred to above (at b.) to encourage the development of research programmes in the field of non-conventional medicines covering the individual and holistic approach, the preventive role and the specific characteristics of the non-conventional medical disciplines; Parliament undertakes to do likewise.

  2.2  As to homeopathy in veterinary medicine, the first steps of recognition have been made. In July 1999 Council Regulation 1804/1999/EC was adopted, supplementing Regulation 2092/91/EEC by establishing rules on organic production and agricultural products and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs to include livestock production. This Regulation stipulates that, when animals become sick or injured, they should be treated immediately by giving preference to homeopathic or herbal medicinal products and by limiting to a strict minimum the use of chemically-synthesised allopathic medicinal products in order to guarantee the integrity of organic production for consumers.

  2.3  All EU Member States are obliged to register homeopathic medicines pursuant to Directive 2001/82/EC (veterinary use) and 2001/83/EC (human use)—amended by Directive 2004/28/EC and Directive 2004/27/EC respectively—on the Community Code relating to medicinal products. Homeopathic medicines are prepared in accordance with a homeopathic manufacturing procedure described in the official pharmacopoeias currently used in the Member States,—the French, German, and increasingly, the European Pharmacopoeia.


  In 1999 the Council of Europe, in its Resolution 1206 (1999) on non-conventional medicine (=Complementary and Alternative Medicine) called on "member states to promote official recognition of these forms of medicine in medical faculties and to encourage hospitals to use them". In addition, the Council stated that "appropriate courses should be offered in universities to train allopathic doctors in alternative and complementary forms of treatment", and that "the best guarantee for patients lies in a properly trained profession, which is aware of its limitations, has a system of ethics and self-regulation and is also subject to outside control".


  4.1  Homeopathy is recognised by law as a distinct medical therapy in Belgium (1999), Bulgaria (2005), Hungary (1997), Latvia (1997), Portugal (2003), Romania (1981), and Slovenia (2007). In some countries where the government has delegated the tasks of authorisation, registration and supervision of medical practitioners to the national medical associations, statutory regulation has been introduced by the national medical associations, ie in Austria, Germany, Romania and Switzerland. In Lithuania it was the national institute of medico-legal affairs that regulated homeopathy. The national medical associations in France and Italy have recognised homeopathy as a distinct medical therapy and called on the government to provide the necessary legislation.

  4.2  In Latvia the medical council/chamber has recognised homeopathy as a medical specialty. In the following countries as an additional qualification: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania (almost a subspecialty), Romania, Switzerland (subspecialty for GPs, paediatricians and internists).


  5.1  Familiarisation courses about homeopathy are provided in the medical undergraduate curriculum as a part of a course on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Hungary (one university), Italy and the Netherlands; as a separate subject in Bulgaria, Germany and Romania. These familiarisation courses are optional for medical students in Germany, Hungary (one university), Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland (some universities), obligatory in Latvia and Romania.

  Postgraduate training courses in homeopathy for doctors are provided at universities in Bulgaria, Germany, France, Italy, Lithuania and Spain, in other countries at private teaching centres.

  5.2  A lectureship specifically for homeopathy exists only in the Netherlands (Amsterdam), a professorial chair of CAM including homeopathy in Hungary (P

cs) and Switzerland (Bern).


  Several hospitals in continental Europe, in their out-patient departments, currently provide homeopathic treatment by physicians, ie in Austria (seven), France (two), Germany (five), Spain (two), Italy (some).

Dr Ton Nicolai, President of the European Committee for Homeopathy

November 2009

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