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Top IVF doctor cleared

12 November 2007
Appeared in BioNews 433

Leading UK fertility expert, Mohamed Taranissi, has been cleared of allegations made by the government's fertility watchdog - the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - falsely accusing him of exaggerating his success rates and offering 'unnecessary and unproven' treatments.

This latest ruling marks the end of an ongoing saga which began when, on 15 January this year, police-assisted HFEA teams conducted simultaneous, unannounced inspections of Taranissi's two London clinics; an action which the HFEA claimed was the only way to obtain the regulatory documents required by law. Simultaneously, the BBC aired a Panorama documentary - 'IVF Undercover' - showing coverage of the raids, an incident which the HFEA claims was coincidental. 'The programme was made by the BBC and we have not been involved in its making in any way,' they said in a statement published on the HFEA website. Taranissi pressed charges against the HFEA and in June the High Court ruled that the raids had been 'unlawful'.

In the documentary, Angela McNab, former chief executive of the HFEA, is reported to have warned patients against 'reproductive immunology therapy', the treatment under criticism, on the grounds that there was no scientific evidence to justify its effectiveness. But in a high court statement issued last week, the HFEA said that 'some doctors genuinely believe that [these treatments] offer benefits for their patients, and they are doing nothing wrong in providing such tests and treatments.'

The statement went on to say: 'The HFEA accepts that Mr Taranissi is committed to providing the best possible outcome for his patients.'

The HFEA has also confirmed figures showing that Taranissi's clinic - the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) - had the highest success rates in the UK, information that until now has been barred from the HFEA's website.

Mr Taranissi hopes that the ruling will be the end of his ordeal. 'It was all unnecessary in my view, but it is something you have to deal with,' he told the Guardian. 'Hopefully we can put this episode behind us now.'

Despite this agreement a ruling made by the High court in July, demanding that Mr Taranissi is required to appoint a new person to be responsible for ensuring his clinics abide by the law, remains in force.

Taranissi is also in the process of suing the BBC for libel.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Agreement reached in IVF claim
BBC News Online |  9 November 2007
IVF doctor cleared of inflating birth rates
The Independent |  12 November 2007
IVF doctor settles libel case
The Guardian |  10 November 2007
Top UK IVF doctor cleared
The Sun |  10 November 2007
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