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Complaint on Irish IVF clinic's 'misleading' advert upheld

2 October 2017
Appeared in BioNews 920

A complaint about radio and internet advertisements for a major IVF clinic in Ireland has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

The clinic, Sims IVF Cork, ran a radio commercial claiming 'If there's a [fertility] problem, our dedicated medical team ...will find it' through its 'his and hers' fertility tests.

Their internet advertisement described the fertility test as involving 'for the woman a simple AMH [anti-mullerian hormone] blood test that will accurately predict how fertile you are'.

However, an anonymous complainant found the radio advert 'misleading' and told the ASAI 'she did not consider that it was possible to guarantee that all fertility problems could be identified', as some patients have unexplained infertility. 

She further explained that issues caused by poor egg quality may only come to light following one or more IVF procedures.

Of the internet advert, the complainant considered it was 'irresponsible' to claim that 'AMH tests alone would accurately predict how fertile a woman was' and questioned their accuracy.

The advertisers disagreed with this and responded that 'the testing of AMH levels was accepted worldwide as an excellent method of measuring a woman's ovarian reserve and by extension her fertility potential'. They cited more than 600 articles that linked a woman's AMH levels to her fertility and mentioned that the clinic itself has written two peer-reviewed journal articles on the subject.

However, the clinic added: 'The AMH value was not taken on its own, but formed part of a diagnosis that looked at both female age and reproductive history.' Additionally, they said the test had 'a powerful prognostic value' when used together with a standard semen analysis taken from the male partner.

The ASAI committee acknowledged that 'infertility was a sensitive topic for many people' and found both Sims IVF Cork's adverts' claims to be in breach of several codes of the law. The clinic's internet description of the AMH test was considered 'likely to mislead' as the clinic had admitted that other factors would also be considered. The radio claim 'If there is a problem … we will find it' was found  to be an absolute claim which was unsubstantiated. 

'The advertising should not be used in its current format,' the ASAI concluded.

A prominent IVF clinic has been slapped on the wrist for its 'misleading' ads
The Daily Edge |  26 September 2017
ASAI ruling on Sims IVF Cork complaint, reference 28241
Advertising Standards Agency Ireland |  23 January 2022
Complaint about 'misleading' online ad for Cork IVF clinic upheld |  23 September 2017
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