- Feb 2018
Several years ago the Swiss government commissioned the most extensive research review by a government to date regarding the effectiveness of homeopathy. The report was published in 2011, entitled “Homeopathy in Healthcare - Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs, by Bornhoft and Matthiessen and published by Springer Verlag. http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783642206375/.This breakthrough report affirmed that homeopathic treatment is both effective and cost-effective and that homeopathic treatment should be reimbursed by Switzerland’s national health insurance program. As a result homeopathy is now covered by the Swiss medical services as long as a medical doctor prescribes the remedies.
I submitted the following comment on 21 February 2018, but it was not published:
"Several years ago the Swiss government commissioned the most extensive research review by a government to date regarding the effectiveness of homeopathy. The report was published in 2011, entitled “Homeopathy in Healthcare - Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs, by Bornhoft and Matthiessen and published by Springer Verlag. http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783642206375/.
This breakthrough report affirmed that homeopathic treatment is both effective and cost-effective and that homeopathic treatment should be reimbursed by Switzerland’s national health insurance program. As a result homeopathy is now covered by the Swiss medical services as long as a medical doctor prescribes the remedies."
This is completely wrong on many counts.
It wasn't extensive: it was a limited review of some homeopathy studies for a few medical conditions. Indeed, the Swiss Government felt it necessary to correct this false and misleading impression.
Further, the published document you cite wasn't even the same as that submitted to the Programm Evaluation Komplementärmedizin (PEK) set up by the Swiss Government to review reimbursement for homeopathy in their state health insurance scheme. It was an unofficial English translation of the report that was added to by the authors. Again, the Swiss Government had to clarify that it was published 'without any consent of the Swiss government or administration'.
In their evaluation of the evidence for homeopathy, the authors (mostly with homeopathy conflicts of interest) chose to 're-interpret' the conclusions of the original studies, making them more favourable to homeopathy. When the PEK reviewed the report, they had to downgrade the conclusions to achieve a more balanced view of the evidence, saying, 'Even less skeptical academic doctors will regard many interpretations as very optimistic and not scientifically convincing.' It has been heavily criticised elsewhere.
The report only looked specifically at evidence for upper respiratory tract infections and allergic reactions, so even if their conclusions had been valid, they cannot be extrapolated to the homeopathic treatment of any other condition. Also, homeopathy had not been found cost-effective because it had not been found effective.
As a direct result of the Swiss homeopathy report, the Government removed the previous temporary reimbursement of homeopathy from its insurance scheme.
However, after campaigning by homeopaths and their supporters, a referendum was held in which 67% of those voting voted for homeopathy (and other alternative treatments) to be included for reimbursement. The Swiss Government was in a difficult situation because, although the results of referendums are binding, their law only allows reimbursement for treatments that meet requirements of 'efficacy, appropriateness and cost-effectiveness'. Since none of these therapies met the requirements, the Government has allowed temporary reimbursement. The Swiss Government has now made that reimbursement permanent, even though it declared it was:
"impossible to provide such proof for these disciplines in their entirety."
As you do correctly say, homeopathy is only reimbursed if provided by a medical doctor.
- Gurtner, F. 2012. "The Report 'Homeopathy in Healthcare: Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs' Is Not a 'Swiss Report'." Swiss Medical Weekly (December 17). doi:10.4414/smw.2012.13723. http://www.smw.ch/content/smw-2012-13723/.
- Henness, Alan, and Sven Rudloff. 2013. "That 'neutral' Swiss Homeopathy Report | Zeno's Blog." http://www.zenosblog.com/2012/05/that-neutral-swiss-homeopathy-report/. Note that this references a blog post written by Alan Henness and Sven Rudloff with translations from Swiss-German by Sven Rudloff. However, all original documents are cited, so the veracity of translations (and other information) can be fully verified.
- Edzard Ernst. 2012. "A Critique of the Swiss Report Homeopathy in Healthcare - Ernst - 2012 - Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies - Wiley Online Library." http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2042-7166.2012.01160.x/full. 4 Swiss to recognise homeopathy as legitimate medicine. SWI swissinfo.ch. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/society/complementary-therapies_swiss-to-recognise-homeopathy-as-legitimate-medicine/42053830 (accessed 26 Nov 2017).
- Jul 2015
Swiss government commissioned report supports homeopathy
It has been pointed out time and time again to Sandra that the "Swiss report" was not, in fact, commissioned by the Swiss Govt.
It has been misrepresented as such so much that the Swiss Govt did actually speak out on it to clarify this.