Homeopathy Medicine Politics Pseudoscience Quackery

L’Ordre des Médecins suspends the French medical license of a member of fake médecine for speaking out against homeopathy

fake médecine is a French doctors’ group that issued an open letter opposing government funding for homeopathy. French homeopaths complained to l’Ordre des Médecins, which this week suspended its president’s medical license for three months.

One of the things I like about having blogged continuously for so many years are times when I’ve written about something that few, if any, other bloggers have and then, years later, learn of an update to the story. It’s particularly great when these sorts of stories occur overseas and hardly punctured the consciousness of the English-speaking world, giving me the opportunity to be the main take on the issue. So it was nearly two years ago that I noticed the #FakeMed hashtag on Twitter and wrote about a public statement by 124 physicians in France calling on the government to stop funding homeopathy and alternative medicine. Nearly everything written about it was in French, with almost no English sources, even though an English version of the physician’s statement was included on the fake médecine website letting me refresh my skills in the French language while reporting on an important development in Europe that wasn’t getting much coverage in the English-speaking world. Basically, these physicians who signed the fake médecine (FakeMed) statement called for the following actions by the French General Medical Council with respect to alternative medicine and homeopathy:

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.

Homeopaths being homeopaths, you can probably guess what the result of this statement was. Many of the French physicians behind fake médecine were threatened with lawsuits, and homeopaths complained about FakeMed, its members, and its President, Dr. Cyril Vidal, to the French medical authorities, known as the Conseil national de l’Ordre des Médecins or simply l’Ordre des Médecins, as described in Le Monde (translated by a combination of Google Translate and myself):

The tension has not decreased among doctors after the publication of a statement signed by more than 120 health professionals on March 19 in Le Figaro against homeopathy and other alternative medicines. Following this text, Le Figaro claims, on Thursday, April 12, trade unions of homeopathic doctors, mesotherapists or accupuncturists have filed a complaint with the Conseil national de l’Ordre des Médecins against 10 of its 124 signatories – five doctors who expressed themselves in the media after the publication of the podium, and five others who signed it.

The statement castigated in particular “practices neither scientific nor ethical, but very irrational and dangerous” and spoke of “fake médecine” (“false medicine”). The signatories asked the Council of the Order, “do not allow doctors or health professionals to use their title who continue to promote” these practices.

The unions criticizes the remarks as “offensive, defamatory and even insulting” and “contrary to the ethical principles of confraternity, consideration of professsion”, reports Le Figaro. They are asking for a “public apology.”

When a complaint is lodged with the l’Ordre des Médecins, the first step is an attempt at conciliation. If the mediation fails, “we will then draw lots of doctors from the list of [the signatories] every fortnight for new complaints,” warns Dr. Meyer Sabbah, the source of the complaint.

Nearly two years later, I’m getting an update on the fake médecine situation. It came in the form of this Tweet:

Which led to this thread:

And this article in a French physicians’ newspaper, Le Généraliste, Trois mois d’interdiction d’exercice avec sursis pour un généraliste signataire de la tribune anti-homéopathie, or Three months suspension of practice for a general practitioner who signed the anti-homeopathy statement. Yes, you read that right. One of the doctors who signed the fake médecine statement had his license to practice medicine suspended for three months because of his involvement with fake médecine. In fact, it was the President of fake médecine, Cyril Vidal.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a French medical license and therefore can’t access the article fully. Fortunately, as you can see in the Tweets above, outraged French doctors provided screenshots that I could translate in full as well as my rusty French, with occasional help from Google Translate, would allow:

While the previous anti-fraternity complaints against the signatories of the statement of March 2018 resulted in a release or a warning, a new step has just been taken in professional sanctions.

According to our information, the Disciplinary Chamber of First Instance (CDPI) of the Regional Council of the Order of Physicians of Ile-de-France suspended the medical license of a general practitioner of Hauts-de-Seine for three months.

This Wednesday, Cyril Vidal, dental surgeon and president of the FakeMed collective had for his part indicated to Le Géneraliste fear of a “temporary suspension of practice for a doctor,” citing” leaks, information which has since been confirmed to us. “This sanction goes way too far for someone who has just cited the code of ethics, the code of public health and the Academy of Medicine!” said an indignant Cyril Vidal.

The head of the association also said that four other Ile-de-France practitioners had received a reprimand for having signed this same statement demanding an end to state reimbursement for homeopathic products. Two other doctors who appeared in mid-December before the Ile-de-France CDPI should know their sanctions shortly. “We can expect different results because there were several juries,” said Cyril Vidal.

A complaint associated with the Hauts-de-Seine Order

In total, seven Ile-de-France doctors appeared before the CDPI in Ile-de-France. One of them was the subject of two complaints, one from the National Union of French Homeopathic Physicians (SNMHF), the other from the Union collégiale, with which the CDOM 92 was associated. It is precisely this doctor who would be prohibited from practicing.

Like their colleagues already sanctioned, practitioners should appeal the decision of the Ile-de-France CDPI and their file would then be transmitted to the disciplinary committee of the Cnom. It should also make its first decisions on similar complaints processed in early 2019) in April 2020.

Fake Med will contact Olivier Véran

Cyril Vidal views this this decision as marred by a conflict of interest because one of the juries of the CDPI of Ile-de-France included a homeopath: “This person should have recused himself, as should. This also applies to homeopaths and unconventional care practices in the councils of the Order in general.”

“Beyond the ongoing litigation procedures, the president of FakeMed would like to meet with Olivier Véran, new Minister of Health, to discuss with him the subject of unconventional medicines. “He seems interested in this subject. We plan to meet with him to get things done, given the inertia of the Order,” he continues.

So, to recap, in 2018 fake médecine issued a very rational, very justifiable public statement condemning homeopathy and other quackery and appealing to the French government to stop paying for homeopathy. The FakeMed statement probably also really got under the skin of the French General Medical Council by specifically having pointed out that the Council is 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” and “do not become sales representatives of unscrupulous industries,” adding that General Medical Council still tolerates practices that “are at odds with its own code of ethics” and that “public bodies organise or even contribute to the financing of some of these practices.”

By way of a little background, around the same time, Agnès Buzyn, ministre des Solidarités et de la Santé (Minister of Solidarity and Health), had voiced her support for homeopathy, as mentioned here:

Specifically, she said, “If it continues to be beneficial, without being harmful, it will continue to be reimbursed.” As I said at the time, this was a pretty damned irresponsible thing for any minister of health in any country to say.

However, a little further background is also in order here. The French love homeopathy, possibly even more than the Germans, in whose country homeopathy was thought up, do. Homeopathy is everywhere. The multibillion dollar company Boiron, which is known (and mocked) for selling the homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinum (whose base ingredients include duck liver and heart) as a treatment for influenza, is a French company. At the time, in France homeopathic products could be reimbursed at a rate of 30% (but up to 90% in the Alsace-Moselle region) and also benefited from a preferential regulatory status (not unlike that conferred on supplements in the US by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education act of 1994, a.k.a., the DSHEA) that exempted their manufacturers (like Boiron, a French multibillion dollar company) from having to demonstrate their efficacy before they could be marketed.

Now here’s the thing that really grates. Last summer, less than 16 months after fake médecine published its statement, the French government decided to stop reimbursing patients for homeopathy! This came after a study jointly conducted by l’Académie nationale de pharmacie and l’Académie nationale de médecine concluded in a joint statement:

  • “In the current state of our knowledge and the insufficiency of experimental and clinical research, it seems inappropriate to have the faculties of medicine and pharmacy and veterinary schools issuing diplomas or certificates in homeopathy. Such a university title would have the effect of endorsing a therapeutic method that is not accepted or used by most of the body medical. It is, however, up to the therapy teachers to provide students with information on homeopathy, within the framework of their normal teaching.”
  • “If these preparations are recognized as medicines, they must be subject to ordinary law which governs the pharmaceutical industry. For those who have not successfully passed the tests demonstrating their efficacy, the labeling must bear the statement: ‘The efficacy of the product has not been demonstrated according to rigorous standards.'”
  • “The reimbursement for these products by Social Security appears abberant at a time when, for economic reasons, we are not reimbursing many classic medicines because they are (more or less) considered not to work well enough.”

All of these were the same sorts of things demanded by fake médecine in its public statement, and the French government responded:

The French government has announced it will stop reimbursing patients for homeopathic treatment from 2021 after a major national study concluded the alternative medicine had no proven benefit.

The health minister, Agnès Buzyn, a former doctor who has vowed to place scientific rigour at the heart of policy, said she had made the decision after a damning verdict on homeopathy by the national health authority in June.

Buzyn said the refunds paid by French social security – currently 30% of the treatment – would be phased down to 15% in 2020 and then to zero in 2021.

“I have decided to start the process for complete non-reimbursement,” Buzyn told Le Parisien newspaper.

France’s National Authority for Health (HAS) concluded at the end of June that there was no benefit to the medicine, saying it had “not scientifically demonstrated sufficient effectiveness to justify a reimbursement”.

Personally, I’d have been in favor of an immediate defunding of homeopathy, but I suspect politics entered the picture, leading to the phaseout period described in the above article.

Naturally, Boiron was not happy:

French company Boiron, the world leader in homeopathic products, denounced the move as “incomprehensible and incoherent”.

It asked for an urgent meeting with the president, Emmanuel Macron, and said it would “do everything to fight” the decision.

Yes, if you’re a multibillion Euro company, you can get personal audiences with the President or any politician you want. You can also launch astroturf campaigns like “Mon Homéo Mon Choix (My Homeopathy, My Choice),” with the help of various homeopathy associations and organizations.

Fortunately, the process moved forward, and the French government issued regulations last fall phasing out reimbursement of homeopathic remedies and a list of non-reimbursed homeopathic remedies. It’s quite a long list. The regulations took effect on January 1.

So, basically, the French government has come around to agreeing with fake médecine and even deciding to stop paying for homeopathy, just as the signatories to the fake médecine statment demanded. Yet, still the French health authorities temporarily suspended the license of the President of fake médecine for his role in writing and publishing the statement and speaking out publicly against homeopathy for the quackery that it is (The One Quackery To Rule Them All, as I frequently put it). This is not a good look on the part of l’Ordre des Médecines. In fact, by sanctioning any of the members of fake médecine in any way, even reprimands, l’Ordre des Médecines has betrayed science-based medicine. Hell, it’s betrayed all medicine.

Addendum: As pointed out in the comments below, apparently it was not Cyril Vidal who was suspended, but another signatory to the Fake Médecine statement.

It turns out that it was Fake Médecine’s treasurer Dr. Mathieu Van Dessel whose license was suspended:

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

70 replies on “L’Ordre des Médecins suspends the French medical license of a member of fake médecine for speaking out against homeopathy”

The French love homeopathy, possibly even more than the Germans, in whose country homeopathy was thought up, do. Homeopathy is everywhere.

And this love is perpetuated by ads for the occillo running on prime time on all TV channels during flu season.
There is some amount of confusion between homeopathy and herbalism, but not as much as I would like it to be.

(Well, not sure about the German – maybe they are going more for other alt-meds?).

This is not a good look on the part of l’Ordre des Médecines.

The OM waited until he was retired to sanction Joyeux, a vocal French antivax surgeon. And even then, it was a close call.
I said it before, the OM is not better than a police union.

Precision for non-French people: homeopathy is a last-year specialty in French medical schools.
IOW, homeopathy has been fully “integrated” in French mainstream medicine for a long time.

And this love is perpetuated by ads for the occillo running on prime time on all TV channels during flu season.

There’s a certain irony here in that only the U.S. and New Zealand allow direct-to-consumer advertising for, y’know, actual prescription medication.

Which I think is somewhat questionable. and funny, as the ads list (in that super fast advertiser legal disclosure voice, every possible deadly side effect)

I’ve also noticed that they all seem to run a line at the bottom of the screen saying, e.g., “See our ad in Men’s Health, as though this were the foreclosure notices in the classifieds.

Another nice touch is “Don’t take [new drug] if you are allergic to [new drug].”

But as I did mention in another post, I wish to defend Agnès Buzyn. In the french context, her statement was merely RealPolitik: I do not believe for one second that she believes homeopathy works…

One of the issues in french medical politics is the involvement of the State in allowing or disallowing medical practices. The divorce between science and politics is not yet done in medical matters, as can be evidenced by the situation regarding homeopathy. But as can also be evidenced in the situation of psychoanalysis applied to autism, in which the government is currently and silently involved in a battle against doctors and academia in order to reinstate the role of science in this domain.

The battle lines are quite blurry if you look at the situation from outside of France. Just yesterday, I met with one of my previous university professors in applied statistics. We had the chance to discuss a few things, and we allusively agreed that that kind of situation in academia (homeopathy and clinical psychology for instance) has come down overtime to a clear-cut scandal. But there is a taboo, as the nazi card is played very easily to discredit scientific approaches, specifically in the context of medicine.

The good guys are the INSERM and other such experts. The bad guys are the Conseil de l’Ordre des Médecins. The government is more of an arbiter, or a kind of captain trying to navigate the situation. And the french president Macron has given clear-cut signs, though subtle ones, of being genuinely pro-science. Which is not something one can expect to be electorally profitable as things stand currently.

That’s how I believe one should look at things in this context.

Oh, I’m sure there were politics involved. I know enough about France to know that homeopathy is incredibly popular and has managed to really integrate itself with real medicine. I know Boiron and various homeopath societies have a lot of influence. And I understand. She might have made that credulous comment about homeopathy two years ago, but last year she came down on the side of science and did the right thing. I can also understand that it might have been politically impossible to stop government reimbursement for homeopathic products and services cold turkey. Here’s hoping that the forces opposed to her decision don’t manage to get it reversed or partially reversed before 2021 rolls around.

@ Orac

“Here’s hoping that the forces opposed to her decision don’t manage to get it reversed or partially reversed before 2021 rolls around.”

Well, it’s not something you can influence with a ballot box. No commitment to science from the left or the right of Macron, and even voting for Macron is not something that will influence much.

What is at stake is the judicial structure of the Conseil de l’Ordre and its integration in the administrative branch of justice. Changing that would be a major blow to the structure of the French state itself. Or could only be changed with legislation/jurisprudence from the Conseil d’Etat, which is an instance almost completely independent from Parliament, and not elected for one bit. It’s our autonomous “Deep State”. They are the only ones with real power on this issue short of a constitutional earthquake.

Buzyn thought there was something in the sugar pills:
She is also a strong advocate of mammography screening. She has obtained my firing from the INSERM (whose director was her husband Yves Levy) after my discovery of mammography-induced cancers.
She left the ministry one month after our publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.

@ Daniel Corcos

I’m aware of your ordeal, as I’ve read about you quite a few times, though I haven’t had the time to dive into your specific issue. Without wanting to be rude, as I understand it’s sometimes hard to take a stand, it did seem you went somewhat overboard, though I’m just stating things purely from memory. So do not hold me accountable on that opinion I just hastily sketched on a blog.

Yep. She thought that there was at least an active ingredient and not duck liver in Boiron’s shit. You know, something that at least sounds serious and that you could sell to the gullible. I do not believe she believed high dilutions were anything sensible, nor that water has memory… not for one second. In essence, I do not believe that she believed homeopathy did work. Merely that it was a nice sell…

But yeah, she was following the fold. And it somewhat makes sense: in the french context, I find it true that homeopathy is a useful way to decrease or discontinue medication while keeping the patient in the belief that he is treating himself. The main point being to keep the patient going back to doctors to avoid dropping out of medical consultations. In a nutshell: give him “granules” and he’ll come back to you and you can keep an eye on him. A hypocritical way to keep everyone happy… to the detriment of the scientific mindset in academia (which IMO is the biggest problem).


“I haven’t had the time to dive into your specific issue”.

You should, because these thousands of cancers caused by X-rays due to delay in information from the actions of Buzyn / Lévy are more important than Griveaux’s penis. Buzyn didn’t choose to candidate for Mayor, she was forced to quit the Ministry of Health.

@ Daniel Corcos

I’m not interested in day-to-day politics in France anymore. Griveaux could be a new Mapplethorpe masterpiece and the ministry of Health be under the authority of chimpanzees, I wouldn’t give a damn.

And when it comes to mammography, I’m much more concerned when I talk with women who claim that they have been blackmailed into mammography screening because if they did not undergo mammography, it meant that they allegedly believed in UFOs, reptilians and other such stuff, and by the way, how did you take care of your kids? No medical neglect in childhood? That kind of subrepticious and not-so-subtle blackmail. Happened to a woman I met rather recently who worked at a university restaurant (I can get almost anyone I meet to tell me their little medical secrets…).

I’m interested in consent, whether informed or misinformed (sorry Orac). Not interested in the sex life of the head of the ministry of Health with the head of the INSERM. Unless Piotr Pavlensky starts publishing some very kinky medical BDSM on Too bad the site is down, it was a good laugh…

More seriously, conflicts of interest are rampant in the French elite because they simply claim not to understand what the concept is. They believe that “conflict of interest” is an anglo-saxon term conceiling a plot aimed at destroying our “cultural model”, all the way down to the Camembert. Yeah, right.

Do not get me wrong, I am very much interested in overtreatment issues. Being overtreated is precisely that: my life (read my comments on former posts). But as you noticed with your ordeal, the problem is not the data, but the mentality which says that overtreatment is OK because the only real issue are claimed to be access to medical services, or medical neglect of oneself or others. But overtreatment? What’s the big deal? Throw any data or any facts at that problem, it simply doesn’t fit with the worldview of a True Believer in the Mission of Medicine.

You cannot fix that mentality with studies and debates among experts. You can only fix it with fists and baseball bats.

French elites do not understand the meaning of conflict of interests because when French journalists use the sentence, they mean “blatant corruption” (but if they use the term corruption, they would have problems).
You missed a point. The issue is not about overtreatment, a problem that the Ministry can easily ignore, but about thousands of death by cancers caused by radiation in a national program. And this has forced the INSERM to react. Now they lose.

@ Daniel Corcos

“The issue is not about overtreatment, a problem that the Ministry can easily ignore, but about thousands of death by cancers caused by radiation in a national program.”

Please explain the difference. I’m listening… I’m failing to see it. Or rather I am seeing that you are making a difference that I’m not making. A so-called distinction without a difference.

And as people on this blog have noticed, I’m a callous sn of a btch. You cannot make me whine that easily.

But good luck trying to rock the boat. I’ll be “enjoying” the show from the sidelines:

Overtreatment means that you treat when you should not. It’s bad, but as it is difficult to know what to do when you have discovered a cancer, liabilities are difficult to establish. On the contrary, if you use a method for screening with radiation that causes almost as many cancers as it detects, you are in trouble, especially if in the near future it is possible to establish a molecular signature of radiation-induced cancers in the DNA of tumors. So basically, when the INCa ignored the current conclusion that mammography screening has almost no effect on breast cancer mortality, this was not so risky in the overdiagnosis framework (for explaining the excess of cancers), but not with the radiation-induced cancer explanation.
This is the reason why Cancer Rose and other anti-mammography groups have been spared, and not me.
Do you see the difference now?

@ Daniel Corcos

I see the distinction when it comes to your personal fate. For sure.

I do not see the fundamental difference in the mentality of the persons responsible for this state of affairs, both in your case and mine. I call that medical fundamentalism.

That’s why I claim it is a distinction without a difference. At least from my personal perspective on the state of medical affairs and medical politics.

Look. I’m not an expert on cancer. Orac would be a better person to talk to if you wished to vindicate your position. But what I can say is that, even if you were putatively mistaken, the academic freedom on these matters is much more important than the freedom of the random doctor to believe in any crazy shit or the freedom of speech of medical nutcases like pro-homeopathy activists. So essentially, I’m on your side even if you were wrong. But honestly, I have no power in these matters. I’m simply “enjoying” the freak show.

@ Daniel Corcos

“I agree that the persons responsible for this situation did not intend to cause any harm. But when they realized that they were in danger, they preferred to protect themselves rather than the women.”

So you’re claiming that they realized they were wrong and could not admit it? That they were not in private denial but in public denial? I my case, it’s been a fuzzy situation and people are not yet out of private denial as far as I can judge, so it’s a bit different.

“This is what I called the Semmelweis effect (in French, sorry).”

Do not know where you got that name from. But yeah, I’ve had personal experience of that at a very personal level for a very long time. That’s what I called medical fundamentalism: this psychological inability to backtrack. To even consider backtracking. It’s a form of sunken cost fallacy embedded in socialized denial.

Without taking position on the details of your case, I very much appreciate such an article, as it lays bare attitudes few people want to talk about. Thank you very much. Even if you were wrong on the rest, you’re right on that.

By the way, you can use Google translate and a few HTML tags. Here’s your article in English.

@ Daniel Corcos

Given the content of your article, and given a few keywords within, I wish to propose to you what I believe to be two key philosophical texts on rationality and science as an institution. You’ve indeed hit blind spots in dark corners, and I believe these two texts could show you a dim light at the end of the tunnel.

(BTW, I’m french.)

Thank you very much for your suggestions. I’ve been also advised to read Fleck’s “Genesis and development of a scientific fact”. I will read with interest all these books when I have more time, as all my efforts aim at communicating my work in simple words rather than at explaining in philosophical terms to those who don’t understand why they don’t understand.

@ Daniel Corcos

“Thank you very much for your suggestions. I’ve been also advised to read Fleck’s “Genesis and development of a scientific fact”. I will read with interest all these books when I have more time, as all my efforts aim at communicating my work in simple words rather than at explaining in philosophical terms to those who don’t understand why they don’t understand.”

That literature was for you. It’s not medicine per se, far from it, but it may give you solid philosophical anchorage if ever you fear that your thoughts on the matter may betray you. Guidelines as to what kind of criticism or position is ill-founded or not. Very general stuff, though.

In my case, I do have to argue my position in philosophical terms at some point, as that is a way to highlight what kind of thinking is wrong. If you want to have some fun, “enjoying” my freak show much the same way I do with yours, you may have some fun reading this comment thread in french with Aliocha, a french theocrat. Much fun on my side. The thread starts here. If you examine the references I link in, you’ll get the gist of my position and the kind of mental wall I feel obliged to dynamite.

There have been a few comments too on Lévy’s new position at the Conseil d’Etat now that he has left the INSERM, on more recent blog posts. You may wish to chime in…

@ Daniel Corcos

Sorry, wrong link for the comment thread. Here it is.

And here is the comment on Lévy.

It’s a strongly right-wing blog, which in my opinion, makes it all the more “enjoyable”… as I can pull off my gloves without any fear of collateral damage.

Thank you for the links. Actually my strategy is to communicate the basic findings, i.e. it is possible to distinguish an excess of cancers due to detection from an excess of cancers occurring late as a function of previous mammograms, and the rest is simple maths.
Concerning Yves Lévy, it is significant that he was forced to leave the INSERM just after the involvement of Transparency International to support me. Whereas Agnès Buzyn had to quit the Ministry one month after our publication in the New England and a few days after my letter to the organizers of the MyPeBs trial. If these are not just coincidences, this means that it is more important for the institutions to avoid the scandal than to deal rapidly with the health issue.

@ Daniel Corcos

“This means that it is more important for the institutions to avoid the scandal than to deal rapidly with the health issue.”

Of course this is the case: We cannot mentally handle medical scandals publicly in France. Except when we cannot shove the mess under the carpet anymore. That’s the way things go. Like for Irène Frachon: no one is ever responsible for anything. Bullshit.

“Like for Irène Frachon: no one is ever responsible for anything.” Good link.
When there is active corruption, there is passive corruption.

I fully expect MJD to show up here declaring “Mon Homéo Mon Choux”. But then he has a lot of experience as a part of “l’Ordure des Médecines”.

I hope there’s a massive, loud backlash against this terrible decision, such that the homeopaths ultimately regret going after the FakeMed doctors. I’m hoping for a situation similar to the incident a few years ago when the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) sued Simon Singh for calling chiropractic treatment for various childhood ailments “bogus”. It didn’t end well for the chiropractors.

@ DrBollocks

Won’t happen. One of the reason is that the Conseil de l’Ordre belongs to the administrative branch of french justice. A branch I’ve been bitching about on this blog when discussing french medicine with Joel Harrison.

I can give you a course when it comes to the inner workings of the administrative branch of french justice which would appall many US citizens. Only option: going to the European Court of Human Rights, and even then, I do not see science winning.

Remember: from a legal point of view, the science is here irrelevant. What is at stake is not being “brotherly”. Nothing else. Period. Consequence: They won’t win.

So you’re saying, basically, is that in French medicine there’s a code of silence, that criticizing your colleagues, even if the criticism is completely justified (as in this case), can get you into trouble with l’Ordre des Médecins?

@ Orac

That’s my opinion. I could give you many evidence of many things that are not going right, but it’d be a bummer.

A code of silence? Kind of. You can criticize. But not publicly. Not really.

I believe they are so sensitive to the image of medicine in the public eye that they are not willing to have these kind of discussions spill over into the public sphere.

France really likes to control public discourse, and Macron is no exception to it. You cannot imagine the amount of hatred that there currently is the french opinion against journalists, who are perceived to be moralistic liars down to the core. That’s a big component of the current debate on “populism” in France (which is not to deny that we have very ugly political forces at work).

It’s not only an issue of medical culture. It’s a general cultural issue, where criticism, even factual criticism, is perceived to be impolite. That’s the real code of silence: politeness. It can be epitomized by the fact that one of the worst french insult is “mal élevé”, so polite an insult that it’s devastating. It means “you’ve been badly raised up”. You can shut up any conversation that way, and not being “brotherly” is just that.

Well, calls for “civility” and enforced “civility” have always been a preferred method used by the powerful to shut down criticism.

@ Orac

I just noticed that there is an appeal going on within the conseil de l’ordre. The decision mentioned in this post was made by a regional disciplinary chamber. It’s now going on to the national level in appeal. As this is staying within the conseil de l’ordre, they may have some freedom overturning the decision. But if it leaves the conseil de l’ordre and goes on to the administrative circuit and to the conseil d’Etat, I do not believe they would overturn the decision.

My guess is that there likely is discussion behind closed doors on this matter because I believe the conseil d’etat would be very reluctant to do the right thing if it knew what it were. Because doing so likely wouldn’t follow the legal rules of this court, which proceeds only on the grounds of “cassation”.

Quote: “It is not a third level of jurisdiction intervening after the appeal when it is possible, because the cassation judge does not re-judge the case. It only verifies compliance with the procedural rules and the correct application of the law by the trial judges. The judgment or judgment is only quashed (or quashed) if the procedure has been irregular or the rules of law poorly applied.”

That’s why it should be solved within the conseil de l’ordre as the conseil d’etat is not equipped legally to do a retrial. And if goes wrong, European Court of Human Rights on free speech grounds. But this austrian precedent about calling Momo a Pedo doesn’t bode well: the European Court of Human Rights does grant quite a latitude for national states to make their own regulations concerning free speech, and I believe it would endorse the right of the french state and more specifically the right of its administrative branch of justice to enforce “brotherly” behavior to the detriment of free speech. If I understand the austrian precedent correctly. It may still judge otherwise given that that court seems to have a well-deserved grudge against France, but it’s not a given either.

And even then, the french state has a bad track record when it comes to applying decisions of the European Court of Human Rights as our conseil constitutionnel is a master at double-speak (as France is one of the rare european states that have not signed the Vienna convention on international treaties… so they have “excuses”… though not in my eyes).

[T]ye cassation judge does not re-judge the case. It only verifies compliance with the procedural rules and the correct application of the law by the trial judges.

Basically the same as a U.S. appellate court.

@ Narad

The twist is that these courts are our last ressort courts. Your appellate courts can be challenged at the supreme court. Ours can’t because cassation is indeed the highest level in the french system.

Quote: “It is not a third level of jurisdiction”. So that’s it: no third level of jurisdiction in the french system… Well almost: you have the Cour de révision et de réexamen which can do a retrial, but it’s extremely hard to get there. You’d basically need new serious overwhelming evidence (new evidence in the case of homeopathy, let me laugh…) or you need to have already gone to the European Court of Human Rights. Drop the idea.

And there’s also the distinction between common law and civil law. Jurisprudence does not play the same role… Civil law in France is IMO way too rigid. Whereas common law in the US brings a whole other can of worms to the table when it comes to the way jurisprudence is handled and propagated throughout the judicial system.

(BTW, I have offered to avoid talking to one another on this blog. That offer is still on the table.)

The French government has come around to agreeing with fake médecine.

If you choose an ironic name for your organization, routine references to it in prose may become confusing AF, or yet another sign that we all have gone through the looking glass into the Upside Down.

Yeah, I found their choice of name confusing, but maybe it’s a nuance of language or some such?

More like deciding to go with a pun on “Fake news” and the backfiring effect is more noticeable once translated again.
They may also be fans of Ben Goldacre “Bad Science”.

Out of curiosity, which countries are currently hot-beds ( perhaps I should say water beds) of homeopathy? That is, where products sell well and there is popular support for them.
I assume mostly EU ( and the UK, I must say it that way now) more than North America I assume. Less so in Asia where other woo is rife. Germany, France, he UK? How about Scandinavia and in Eastern or Southern Europe? Other areas?
I don’t know, any data?

@ Denice Walter

France is definitely a hotbed. The thing that should be understood is not that plain people are big on woo. They’re not that much: they’re simply following the opinions of doctors and the main cultural motion of society. They cannot be accused of being woo-lovers when no one tells them that there is an issue.

The problem is that homeopathy is integrated into the mainstream academic curriculum. I do not believe you’d have that in the UK.

And that you have a real quantum physics university professor (not Deepak Chopra, a real physicist) namely Marc Henry who is dead bent on using his credentials in physics, not medicine, to vindicate the legitimacy of that nonsense “scientifically”.


@ Orac

If you want transcripts into english of this guy’s material, I can help. You’d be able to give a more “physics” twist to your blog. Might be a valuable additional skill in debunking crankery: “physics”. This guy, Marc Henry, really deserves to be made a fool of.

This guy, Marc Henry, really deserves to be made a fool of.

I suppose Luc Montagnier has already done that on his own.

… hot-beds ( perhaps I should say water beds) of homeopathy?

Now you’ve done it … I’ll never get the image out of my head of homeopaths performing, um, ‘succussion’ … urgh…

That’s what I’m here for: creating disturbing images and/ or provoking woo-meisters. I try. I really do.

Thanks, Richard and F68.10. That gives me an idea of where it is most prevalent.

Additional info to Wiki: “Europe held about 37% of the total global homeopathy products market in the year 2016. According to the OECD, in 2014, the healthcare expenditure was around USD 390 billion in Germany, whereas, in France, it was USD 290 billion and in the United Kingdom, it was USD 270 billion.” “North America is the second most lucrative market for homeopathy products, due to region’s developed healthcare industry, utilization of well-developed products and technologies, and presence of major market players.”

“India leads in terms of number of people using homeopathy, with 100 million people depending solely on homeopathy for their medical care.There are over 200,000 registered homeopathic doctors currently, with approximately 12,000 more being added every year.”

@ Ross MIles:

Thanks. That’s about what I expected.

Thus, the so-called First World leads in its acceptance of pseudo-science. I wonder if developing countries countries lack the disposable income or it they use native-derived woo instead?
India has both Ayurvedic AND homeopathic**; China; TCM ?
Do you need to first accept SBM in order to reject it and replace it with woo? ( rhetorical question)

** I almost wrote ” homeopathetic”

It’s not all “woo,” some of it obviously works, herbalism isn’t idiocy.

I’m not sure who you are responding to so I’m not sure what question to ask but I might have one or two. If it works then it’s not woo but we don’t slap the woo label on things that work (and demonstrably so). Herbalism is woo unless again, proven to work for something e.g. digitalis, salicylic acid, and other phytomedicines. There is a murky area where there are obvious effects but identification of the active ingredient(s) has/have not been elucidated so purity and concentration are problematic. Then there are herbal “remedies” that suffer from this along with contamination of active pharmaceuticals or shite. So it would be nice to know what you are referring to.

No shit Science Mom, no offense, but I’ve been around here for a while, obviously. I was referring to Denice’s attitude.

Yeah, I’m not stupid either, thanks.

I know Uncle Smut is familiar with the Amanita lore, but I doubt anybody here knows where the first batches of estradiol came from. Bueller? Bueller?

Yeah, don’t explain things to me like I’m five years old, it’s really fcking irritating to be honest. I’m probably the smartest person here. I definitely pay the most attention. *Obviously.

“Where did that guy go? Who’s that guy? Who was saying that thing before? Who remembers this that and the other thing? Blah blah blah?”

Yeah. Fcking *duh, people.

@ JP @ Science Mom

As far as I understand the word “herbalism”, Tabex is part of “herbalism”.

Do not know what Gary Null would think of that one, though.

I know Uncle Smut is familiar with the Amanita lore, but I doubt anybody here knows where the first batches of estradiol came from.

Tap-tap-tappity-tap… <a href=”>reduction of estrone, 1933? (The original.)

Precedence is everything.

^ Allow me to try to <a href=””>fix the first link.

For the simple reason prescriptions were advised against and then an outright ban in 2018 on a ruling by the High Court for any funds paid to a prescriber from the NHS . Product usage is continuing to grow.

Deepak Chopra isn’t a physicist; he’s a physician. I’ve never heard of Marc Henry; he doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, nor do I understand French. It’s a shame if he uses quantum mechanics to make up something about how homeopathy works, but why increase his fame when he appears to have very little?

@ Cloudskimmer

“Deepak Chopra isn’t a physicist; he’s a physician.”

Precisely, that’s the point. Chopra is a physician not playing in his league. Henry is a physicist not playing in his league either. I want to start a contest as to which one is the most hilarious.

“I’ve never heard of Marc Henry; he doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, nor do I understand French.”

He’s a real university professor. Not a teaching assistant. And head of a lab, so called “Solid State Molecular Chemistry Laboratory” at the University of Strasbourg. Perhaps people aren’t as big on Wikipedia in France, it seems, when being a university professor is pretty much akin as being a civil servant.

“It’s a shame if he uses quantum mechanics to make up something about how homeopathy works, but why increase his fame when he appears to have very little?”

He has numerous conferences on that topic. He’s obviously not doing it for the money, but for an agenda, and he is cited in french pro-homeopathy blogs or comments as a scientific caution for homeopathy. His theory seems to be hilarious, pretty much as his claim that one day we’ll be cured by quantum vibes over the telephone. Serious shit.

And I must say I have scores to settle with official scientists after having been branded as a medical flat earther and scientologist for so many years in psych wards. Grudge, you know. And hate:

We all have to pick our battles. My current one is a fellow student in a class I’m taking who pontificates about the curative properties of various so-called medicinal plants. She makes fantastic claims that I later find to be incorrect, and I’m wrestling with how to confront this without seeming to be rude. The instructor asked for evidence of a recent claim, and seemed rather accepting, so I at least plan to provide her with the evidence that Native Americans didn’t survive the 1918 flu epidemic at a higher rate due to their use of Lomatium, and Lomatium doesn’t have any evidence supporting use for viral illnesses. It’s a small matter, but I want to keep this quack (who has no real medical qualifications, but sells her services, doing acupuncture on animals, treating them with flower remedies) from contaminating the class. How to do it without seeming to be rude? I’m not good at this and so far have remained silent.

@ Cloudskimmer

You should talk directly with that person in a really non-confrontational style with a nonetheless very firm refusal to give in to bullshit. If the discussion goes public and does not stay private, that person will feel humiliated, potentially play the victim card, and will start targeting you.

Private discussion first. If absolutely inevitable, public confrontation. But be willing to bear the consequences of the grudge you will thus earn.

It really is incredible that this nonsense persists. I remember a study which came out maybe 8 years ago about the structure of water near an interface (glass, specifically). They reported that water molecules in the first layer had restricted movement, but in the next layer they moved completely freely. That is fatal to the idea of water “memory.”

That’s weird, because the news story sure made it sound as though it was Cyril Vidal who was suspended. That does explain one thing. The article said it was a general practitioner who was suspended, but Cyril Vidal is a dentist, which did confuse me a bit while I was writing this. I’ll add a correction.

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