Page URL:

HFEA calls for 'culture change' on IVF add-ons

19 November 2018
Appeared in BioNews 976

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has signed a consensus statement calling for private IVF clinics to stop charging patients costly optional add-on treatments that are not proven to work. 

A total of 11 organisations signed the letter, made public on the HFEA website. They included the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the British Fertility Society. 

'Patients deserve consistent, evidence based treatment,' said Peter Thompson, chief executive of the HFEA. 'We are concerned that too many patients are being offered unproven treatment add-ons. While we do not want to put up unreasonable barriers to clinical innovation, we believe such add-ons should be available only where there is proof they work.'

The increased competition among private IVF clinics is to blame for the costly add-on treatments, according to the letter. These add-ons include techniques such as time-lapse imaging to try to detect embryo abnormalities and assisted hatching, which involves creating a hole in the embryo's outer layer to aid the hatching process that takes place before implanting in the womb. 

The add-ons are sold as ways to increase chances of having a successful pregnancy, but the effectiveness of these expensive treatments is unproven. Some of the techniques carry significant health risks to the patient. The consensus statement criticises clinics for easily offering add-on treatments due, in part, to demand from patients. 

'Practitioners have a duty of care to patients, which should separate pressure from patients and commercial interests from their best practice advice,' it states. The signatories call for a 'culture change' in order to have a truthful conversation with patients about treatment add-ons. The high costs of charging patients for experimental procedures was raised in July (see BioNews 958).
Thompson said: 'That is why we’ve been working with professional groups to agree a statement about how treatment add-ons should be offered ethically in clinical practice in the UK.' The full consensus statement is due to be published shortly, he added. 

HFEA statement about treatment add ons
HFEA |  13 November 2018
IVF clinics charge couples thousands for unproven fertility treatments
The Times |  14 November 2018
Private IVF clinics urged to stop charging for expensive add-ons
The Guardian |  12 November 2018
10 May 2021 - by BioNews 
An in-depth conversation between Sarah Norcross (director of the Progress Educational Trust) and Sally Cheshire (outgoing chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority)...
25 January 2021 - by BioNews 
This film documents a Progress Educational Trust event about consumer protection for fertility patients...
16 September 2019 - by Rikita Patel 
The UK fertility regulator, the HFEA, has called for reforms in the way fertility add-on treatments are offered to patients, according to a consensus statement...
4 February 2019 - by Dr Kamal Ahuja and Professor Nick Macklon 
Recently, the HFEA released a statement on adjunct treatments in IVF. The regulator had provided clear notice of its publication and both its stated intentions and content were as anticipated...
21 January 2019 - by Rikita Patel 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has published a final consensus statement advising that IVF clinics should not charge patients for add-on treatments that are not proven effective by clinical trials...
16 July 2018 - by Rachel Siden 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will require fertility clinics to give patients full information about any IVF 'add-on' services being offered to them...
3 July 2018 - by Shaoni Bhattacharya 
A common procedure, known as endometrial or womb 'scratching', as an add-on to IVF has been shown to have no effect on pregnancy or birth rates...
19 March 2018 - by Richard Kennedy 
The global burden of infertility has been estimated as 48 million. As we approach the 40th anniversary of the birth of Louise Brown, the first child conceived following IVF, it is timely to reflect on the global revolution of assisted reproduction services...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.