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Fertility clinic welcomes action on expensive ‘add-ons'

16 January 2019
Cambridge fertility experts have welcomed calls for greater transparency in clinics around expensive add-on treatments.

Cambridge IVF applauds calls from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for clinics to make it plain that some treatments they charge for are unproven.Lead embryologist Stephen Harbottle

The HFEA says it is time to create a “culture change” and is expecting clinics to provide information to patients about treatment add-ons, including evidence of effectiveness.

The association, backed by 11 other groups ranging from the Association of Clinical Embryologists to Fertility Network UK, also says:

•    Clinics should only offer treatment add-ons where more than one high quality study demonstrates them to be safe and effective

•    Clinics should stop offering the treatment add-on to patients if concerns are raised regarding safety or effectiveness

•    Patients must be clearly informed of the experimental nature of any treatment add-on offered, where there is no robust evidence of its safety and/or effectiveness

•    Patients should not be charged extra to take part in a clinical trial.

Last year Cambridge IVF – concerned about the growing numbers using unregulated overseas clinics following cuts in NHS funding - rolled out PURE IVF. It costs just £2,500 making it one of the most cost effective treatment packages in the country, with the added assurance that all fees go straight into the NHS.

Later it introduced Multi-Cycle IVF which competes favourably with the keenest national and international on-line prices, but crucially meets all-important National Institute of Clinical Guidelines (NICE). The Trumpington-based clinic says at between £6,740 and £8,990 for up to three cycles of IVF, it will cover costs.

Detailed workLead embryologist Stephen Harbottle, a former chair of the Association of Clinical Embryologists and Association of Biomedical Andrologists, said: “The HFEA have confirmed our concerns that many people are paying thousands of pounds for treatment which at best is not clinically proven and at worst could do them harm. In addition, patients are not being told the full facts.

“Our position is clear - if it is not evidence based you don’t pay for it and we won’t recommend it in the first place if it’s not right for you. Certainly the profession should explore new treatments, but patients should not expect to pay if it is not clinically proven or it is a trial.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Cambridge IVF, which holds regular information evenings, can visit its website at http://www.cambridge-ivf.org.uk/