An outspoken fertility doctor has come under attack by the Washington Post for selling fertility supplements in which he has a financial stake.
Norbert Gleicher, a New York City specialist in IVF for women in their 40s, advises patients to take DHEA, a steroid hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone, to help ovarian follicles mature before IVF.
The Post claims that he recommends a brand sold by a company that he owns.
Gleicher is part of a group of fertility gurus filling the yawning void of information around women’s reproductive health, sometimes with answers that benefit themselves financially. In recent years, Gleicher has gone into business with a former patient — obtaining patents with her for DHEA’s use as a fertility treatment — and partnered with a popular fertility book author who cites Gleicher’s research and recommends the supplement sold by his company, Fertility Nutraceuticals. His company’s prices are around four to seven times as high as other popular brands.
Apparently DHEA carries some health risks, although it is produced naturally by the body. Gleicher says that it is safe. But his patients, it seems, are willing to take risks.
“Women, myself included, we’re at a point of desperation,” said 36-year-old Rachel, 36, who is struggling to conceive. Although she is not Gleicher’s patient, she is taking DHEA and coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant, because she read about them on the internet. “If they told me to walk around with Q-tips sticking out of my ears, I’d do it,” she told WaPo. .