The current regulatory status of homeopathic medicine in Europe
The extent to which European countries have established a statutory regulation of homeopathy and how such regulation is performed varies widely. Some countries have government-administered regulations or laws about the practice of CAM in general, some regulate specific CAM therapies such as homeopathy, while still others have no regulation at all.
Homeopathy as a distinct therapeutic system is recognised by law in several countries. In some countries where the government delegates the tasks of authorisation, registration and supervision of health professionals to the national medical associations, statutory regulation has been introduced by the national medical associations.
In some other countries the national medical associations have recognised homeopathy as a distinct medical method and have called on the government to provide the necessary legislation.
Regulation by national law
Homeopathic medicine as a distinct system of medicine is recognised by law in Belgium (1999), Bulgaria (2005), Germany (1998), Hungary (1997), Latvia (1997), Portugal (2003), Romania (1981), Slovenia (2007) and the United Kingdom (1950). The laws in Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Romania and Slovenia explicitly allow the practice of homeopathic medicine to medical doctors only. In Belgium and Portugal the law does not exclude non-medical practitioners, but has not yet been implemented. In Slovenia, although the law permits medical doctors to practise homeopathic medicine, the medical association withdraws doctors’ licenses if they actually practise it.
Regulation of the profession of homeopathic doctors by the medical association/council/chamber
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, e.g. in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Switzerland (subspeciality for GPs, paediatricians and internists). In Latvia the medical council/chamber has recognised homeopathic medicine as a medical specialty. The national medical associations in France and Italy have recognised homeopathic medicine as a distinctive system of medicine and called on the government to provide the necessary legislation.
More detailed information about particular countries can be found here.
Diplomas of homeopathic doctors
In Austria, Germany and Switzerland the diplomas of homeopathic doctors are issued by the national medical council/chamber, in other countries usually by the national homeopathic doctors’ association. Diplomas issued by the national homeopathic doctors’ association are officially approved by the government in Latvia and Romania and are recognized by the national medical council/chamber in Romania.
Homeopathy at universities
Familiarisation courses about homeopathic medicine 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, Switzerland (some universities) the United Kingdom (some universities), obligatory in Latvia and Romania.
Postgraduate training courses in homeopathic medicine for doctors are provided at universities in Bulgaria, France, Italy, Lithuania and Spain, in other countries at private teaching centres.
Homeopathic medicine is an official part of the Continuous Education Programme for doctors in Hungary and Romania.
A professorial chair of CAM including homeopathic medicine exists in Hungary (Pécs) and Switzerland (Bern).
Continuing Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education in general (conventional) medicine is obligatory for all medical doctors in Belgium, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia (controlled by the government) and in Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (controlled by the national medical associations/chambers/councils).
In Latvia, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland the national homeopathic doctors’ associations require a defined amount of CME from their members.
Continuing Medical Education in homeopathic medicine is obligatory for all homeopathic doctors in Lithuania and Romania (controlled by the government), in Hungary and Romania (controlled by the national medical associations/chambers/councils), and in Belgium, Bulgaria, Latvia, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (controlled by the national homeopathic doctors’ associations).
In some areas of the United Kingdom homeopathic treatment by doctors is covered by the National Health System. In Belgium and Latvia the fees for homeopathic treatment are partially covered by the statutory health insurance. In Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom by private insurance companies.
The costs for homeopathic medicines are covered by the statutory health insurance in Belgium (partially), France (partially), Portugal (only magistral formula) and Switzerland, by additional private insurance companies in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.