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Civil society against UE health politics

Open Panel

Abstract

European countries offer a diversity of situation concerning the status of alternative/complementary medicines. Despite the reticence of several governments as the French secular republic, the World Health Organization tends to support the development of those preventive therapeutic systems. Until today, the UE didn’t commit itself in the national debates on alternative medicines. The production and trade control of food supplements and as-called natural drugs was traditionally the ability of national States. The UE institutions played a role of general supervisor of the free market rules. Nevertheless, a European law project provides a huge restriction in this sector. Since the 1sth of April 2011, only a very limited number of authorized pharmaceutical companies would be able to produce and sell medicines, including based-on-plants preparations, food supplements and natural drugs. The previous consequence of such a decision is the disappearance of individual production unities. This paper is based on a PhD work on the conquest of the market by naturopathy, an alternative medicine, part of the religious New Age movement, and on it diffusion on the French public sphere. On one hand, naturopathy professional actors traditionally tended to use the UE frame to organize themselves beyond the national borders, creating in this way, a European health representations space. In the French context, the UE always gave them an administrative and juridical possibility to escape from the national restrictions. On the other hand, those actors represent themselves as the guarantors of the ecological movement, participating since the 70’s to the construction of a public debate on environmental question. Quite rightly, they consider themselves as civil society actors, struggling for the respect of environment against economical interests of pharmaceutical industry. From this law project, which marks out the position of the UE on preventive health sector, I would show the evolution of the mobilization frame of those alternative actors, in the name of environmental politics.