Collectif No Fakemed, 03-18-2018

English version

The Hippocratic Oath is one of the oldest known ethical commitments. It requires a physician to provide the best possible care to his patients, in the most honest way.

These two obligations require a physician to continually seek to improve his or her (medical) knowledge and to inform his patients about what he can reasonably offer, as well as what treatments are unnecessary or contra-indicated.It is easy and rewarding to display one’s knowledge. It is much more difficult to explain and accept one’s limits. Then, one can be tempted to provide medical care without any scientific basis. This temptation has always existed. She was, and still is, nourished by charlatans of all kinds who use the moral reference of their credentials to promote fake therapies with illusory efficacy.

The obligation of honesty is written in the ethical codes of medical professions and in the French Public Health Act (article 39 of the ethical code and article R.4127-39 of the French Public Health Act): 
They forbid charlatanism and deception, impose the prescription and distribution of treatments for which the efficacy was established. They also proscribe the use of obscure remedies or remedies which do not clearly list the substances that they contain.

The French General Medical Council are responsible for ensuring that its members do not use their credentials to promote practices for which science was unable to demonstrate their usefulness or practices which can even be dangerous. The Council must ensure that physicians do not become sales representatives of unscrupulous industries. It must penalise those who lost sight of the ethics of their exercise.Yet in 2018, the General Medical Council still tolerate practices that are at odds with its own code of ethics and public bodies organise or even contribute to the financing of some of these practices.

We had to react strongly and vigorously to these widespread and esoteric practices and to the growing mistrust of the public towards evidence-based medicine.

Homeopathy, like other so-called “alternative medicine” practices, is in no way scientific. These practices are based on beliefs that promise a miraculous and safe recovery. In September 2017, the Scientific Council of the Academies of European Sciences published a report confirming the lack of evidence of efficacy of homeopathy. In most developed countries, doctors are prohibited from prescribing homeopathic remedies.

The so-called “alternative” therapies are ineffective beyond any placebo effect and can even prove to be dangerous.

  • They can be dangerous because they treat irrelevant symptoms and over-medicalise populations, giving the illusion that any situation can be solved with a “treatment”.
  • They can be dangerous because they fuel and rely on a fundamental distrust of conventional medicine as shown by the unjustified polemics surrounding vaccines.
  • Finally, They can be dangerous because their use delays the diagnoses and necessary treatments, sometimes leading to dramatic consequences, especially in the treatment of serious diseases such as cancers.

These practices are also costly for public finances.

  • Training is provided in structures funded with public money. Consultations are opened in hospitals at the expense of other medical services. Some of these treatments are reimbursed by the French national health insurance system, which is in deficit.
  • In France, homeopathic products can be reimbursed at a rate of 30% (up to 90% in the Alsace-Moselle region) and benefit from a derogatory status exempting them from having to demonstrate their efficacy.
  • This finances a prosperous industry whose representatives do not hesitate to insult seriously those who criticise them (“There is a Ku Klux Klan against homeopathy” accused the president of the world leading Company in the sector, Christian Boiron, in the newspaper “Le Progrès” dated 15 July 2016) or to brush aside the evidence requirements.

We wish to distance ourselves completely from these practices which are neither scientific nor ethical, but very irrational and dangerous.

We urge the French General Medical Council and the French public authorities to make every effort to:

  • No longer allow physicians or healthcare professionals to continue to promote these practices using their professional credentials.
  • No longer recognise in any way homeopathy, mesotherapy or acupuncture diplomas as medical university degrees or qualifications.
  • Ensure that Medical Schools or institutes which deliver health trainings, may no longer issue diplomas covering medical practices for which the efficacy was not scientifically demonstrated.
  • No longer reimburse health care, medicines or treatments from disciplines which refuse to subject themselves to a rigorous scientific assessment.
  • Encourage initiatives aimed at delivering information on the nature of alternative therapies, their deleterious effects, and their real efficacy.
  • Require all caregivers to abide to the deontology of their profession, by refusing to deliver useless or ineffective treatments, by offering care in accordance with the recommendations of learned societies and the most recent scientific evidence and by demonstrating pedagogy and honesty towards their patients and offering an empathic listening.

Traduction assurée par @PotardDechaine que nous voulons remercier pour son aide.