By Emily Bourke
Fertility specialists have knocked back calls for more regulation of the IVF industry, saying Australia is an international leader in infertility research and treatment governed by a code of practice that is the envy of the world.
The business of baby-making through IVF technology is a thriving industry.
But there is concern couples who are turning to fertility treatment are not fully aware of the risks and reality of what IVF can deliver.
Louise Johnson from the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Technology Authority said there were gaps in industry regulation as well as public understanding.
“Men and women underestimate by about ten years when fertility starts to decline, and on many clinic websites there’s information about the chance of becoming pregnant, or pregnancy rates per embryo transfer, but that doesn’t tell them their chance of taking home a baby in their own circumstances,” Ms Johnson said.
She said ideally the industry should come up with a “gold standard” to present information clearly and consistently so that prospective patients can better understand their chances of taking home a baby.
But Dr David Molloy, Chair of the Heads of IVF Units of Australia, described IVF as an “Australian export success” and a key part of that was regulation.
“We were the first medical specialty group to self regulate,” Dr Molloy said.
“We have a code of practice. If we don’t stick to that code of practice we’re closed down.
“On top of that we’ve got another layer of regulation in and nearly all the states in Australia have got regulations, state laws that govern the practice of IVF,” he said.
The demand for IVF is consumer driven, but health law expert Sonia Allan from Macquarie University said there needed to be greater oversight of the sector.