Some of Australia’s major IVF clinics have changed how they advertise success rates after an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found a number had made misleading claims which could confuse consumers.
ACCC commissioner Sarah Court told 7.30 some players in the industry had been peddling false hope to couples desperate for a baby.
“We had concerns with a significant proportion of the clinics,” Ms Court said.
The concerns fell into two general areas: the use of medical terms in advertising which could confuse the lay person, and selective reporting of success rates.
For example, some clinics advertised a “clinical pregnancy rate” which an average person might understand to mean a live birth of a baby, but actually included ectopic pregnancies or pregnancies where no heartbeat was ever detected.
Selective reporting of success rates included only reporting the number of cycles at the clinic in question, not failed cycles at other clinics.
“For example, a clinic reporting, say, an 85 per cent success rate within two cycles might have not included five previous failed cycles for that woman at another clinic,” Ms Court said.
Both types of claims could mislead consumers, she said.
The ACCC would not reveal which clinics had changed their advertising as a result of the investigation, but Ms Court said of the 34 corporate groups investigated, the consumer watchdog had specific concerns over the advertising of about 10 of them.
‘Advertising had been a bit home-grown’
David Molloy, chair of industry body the Fertility Society of Australia’s IVF Directors’ Group, said the investigation had been “a good thing” for the industry.
“A lot of advertising had been a bit home-grown … so if there are areas where clinics’ claims weren’t accurate or as verifiable as they should be, it’s a really good thing they’ve been straightened up,” he said.