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Expert criticises IVF industry

31st May 2007

Leading fertility expert Lord Robert Winston has criticised the IVF industry for exploiting UK couples.

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In a speech to the Hay Literary Festival in Wales, Lord Winston claimed the sector charges couples over the odds for treatment.

He also criticised the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - the fertility watchdog - over its duty of care.

Lord Winston, a professor at Imperial College, London, said as well as being overcharges for fertility treatments, some couples were being offered embryo screening tests for which there was no clinical justification.

He criticised doctors in the UK for overpriced treatments, and said it was “rather depressing� to consider that some IVF treatments in London cost 10 times as much as the fees charged in Melbourne, Australia.

Lord Winston said: “One of the major problems facing us in healthcare is that IVF has become a massive commercial industry.  It’s very easy to exploit people by the fact that they’re desperate and you’ve got the technology which they want, which may not work.â€?

He said clinicians and scientists doing the work did not want to explore the implications of treatments and were not engaging with the public.

In the UK there are 85 licensed fertility clinics with treatments at private clinics cost between ÂŁ4,000 and ÂŁ8,000 per cycle. In 2004 about 30,000 patients underwent IVF with the vast majority (about 80%) performed privately.

The HFEA said that it policed clinics, held them accountable to ensure the safety and appropriateness of IVF treatments and provided information to patients.

 

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