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Concerns raised over mis-selling in IVF industry

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The competition watchdog will issue consumer protection guidelines to the UK’s IVF clinics following concerns of possible mis-selling and the accuracy of success rates.

Currently, there is no written guidance on consumer protection law for the IVF sector. But the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is developing guidance for the industry to ensure patients are being treated fairly during a stressful and emotional experience.

It comes as the CMA said it has concerns about possible cases of mis-selling when it comes to IVF add-on treatments which can cost up to £2,500 per cycle. It also had concerns about possible misrepresentation of clinics’ success rates.

The guidance will cover issues such as:

  • Price transparency: clinics should present clear and upfront prices for treatments
  • Potential mis-selling of treatments: patients shouldn’t be mis-sold ‘add-on’ (optional extras) treatments. They should be given all the information they need before deciding whether an add-on is right for them.
  • Success rates: clinics shouldn’t mislead patients about how successful their treatments are and should ensure rates are accurate and up-to-date on websites and in advertising.
  • Unfair terms: terms and conditions should be fair and transparent.

The CMA said it will work closely with the sector regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), to understand patients’ experiences and learn more about how clinics operate.

It added that at this early state, it hasn’t reached a view whether or not consumer protection law may have been broken. But where it finds evidence that some clinics’ practices are misleading or their terms are unfair, it could take enforcement action.

The CMA will consult on its guidance later in the year and will also publish advice for patients.

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