IVF clinics warned not to ‘guarantee success’

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IVF clinics warned not to ‘guarantee success’ for patients as watchdog cracks down on fertility centers

  • Concerns over misselling of IVF treatments have led to crackdown
  • The competition watchdog has drawn up new, tough guidelines for clinics
  • Centers that give the impression that their success rates are better than the reality are likely to be in violation of the law, according to the Competition and Markets Authority

Concerns about misselling IVF treatments have led to a crackdown on fertility clinic practices.

The competition watchdog has issued new strict guidelines for clinics and patients, highlighting that some clinics are falsely offering women a ‘guaranteed baby’ or claiming to be ‘number one in the UK in terms of conversion rates’.

Centers that give the impression that their success rates are better than reality are likely to violate consumer law, according to the Competition and Markets Authority.

Prices can exceed £20,000 for an IVF cycle.

Competition watchdog has issued new strict guidelines for clinics and patients, highlighting that some clinics are falsely offering women a 'guaranteed baby' or claiming to be 'number one in the UK for conversion rates' (stock image)

Competition watchdog has issued new strict guidelines for clinics and patients, highlighting that some clinics are falsely offering women a ‘guaranteed baby’ or claiming to be ‘number one in the UK for conversion rates’ (stock image)

The new guidelines state: “Clinics should not advertise misleadingly low headlines to attract patients.”

Centers that violate consumer law in their business practices may be sued or required by a court to provide financial compensation to disadvantaged couples.

dr. Raj Mathur, chairman of the British Fertility Society, which represents members of the private fertility sector and the NHS, said that ‘clinics should represent success rates responsibly in accordance with regulations’.

The Advertising Standards Authority has since issued an enforcement notice instructing clinics to review their ads to ensure they comply with the Advertising Code, and warns it will take action if problems persist after November.

Louise Strong, consumer director at the CMA, said: ‘Buying fertility treatment is a big decision – it can be complicated, stressful and very expensive, with no guarantee of success.

“All patients deserve the information they need to make the right choices for them and to be treated fairly.

The new guidelines state: 'Clinics should not advertise misleadingly low headlines to attract patients' (stock image)

The new guidelines state: 'Clinics should not advertise misleadingly low headlines to attract patients' (stock image)

The new guidelines state: ‘Clinics should not advertise misleadingly low headlines to attract patients’ (stock image)

‘Our guidance should help clinics understand their legal obligations. In six months we will evaluate compliance in the sector and we will be ready to take enforcement action if companies violate the law.’

In February, the CMA announced it was investigating the fertility industry over concerns about possible “misselling of services” and misleading claims about conversion rates.

In its patient guidelines, the watchdog warns that some clinics may “pick and choose” the success rates they advertise to make their results look better than they are.

Examples include using the success rates of a particularly good year rather than the latest, or choosing a selected group of patients with better outcomes.

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