French university suspends homeopathy degree

Lille’s medical dean says subject will no longer be taught because it lacks ‘absolute scientific proof’

September 10, 2018
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A French university has suspended its degree in homeopathy ahead of an important ruling on whether the practice should continue to be state-subsidised.

The University of Lille’s Faculty of Medicine has said that it will not teach the course in 2018-19 amid growing criticism in France of what many doctors have called a pseudoscience.

“It has to be said that we teach medicine based on proof [so] we insist on absolute scientific rigour and…homeopathy has not evolved in the same direction,” said Didier Gosset, dean of Lille’s medical faculty, who described homeopathy as “a doctrine that has remained on the margins of the scientific movement”.

“Studies on homeopathy are rare [and those that exist] are not very substantial,” he continued, adding that “continuing to teach it would be to endorse it”.

The decision by the university in north-west France comes ahead of a report by France’s national health authority, which was asked by the country’s Health Ministry to decide whether homeopathy works and whether it should be subsidised, reported RFI radio station’s news website.

The report is due in February.

The French are among the world’s largest consumers of homeopathic medicines, which use ultra-diluted doses to treat symptoms, and can claim reimbursement of payment for treatment from the social security system, the news site said.

In March, however, a group of doctors challenged its official recognition in an open letter in Le Figaro newspaper, describing practitioners of homeopathy and other alternative medicines as “charlatans”.

They pointed to last year’s report by the European Academies Science Advisory Council “confirming the absence of proof of homeopathy’s efficacy” and called on the French medical council to stop accepting practitioners as doctors and on the social security system to stop paying for it.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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