April 16, 2024


An Australian IVF expert has joined the doyen of British fertility studies in criticising the increasing commercialisation of his industry. According to Professor Robert Norman, of Adelaide University, "We are seeing the rise of IVF mega businesses whereby some of the people running IVF units are more interested in the financial aspects than the medical components of IVF."

He also complains that IVF is becoming a manufacturing process. "In some places IVF is almost becoming a production line whereby diagnosis is ignored merely to get a patient into the IVF process and thereby produce a baby. With this, couples are happy to have a healthy baby but a diagnosis is never made and no research investment occurs to improve our knowledge."

Professor Norman’s complaint echoes stinging comments made by Lord Robert Winston, a leading fertility researcher in the UK. "Amazing sums of money are being made through IVF," . "… money is corrupting this whole technology."

But commercialisation is not Professor Norman’s only concern. Because patients receive subsidies from the Australian government for an unlimited number of IVF cycles, there is less incentive for doctors to investigate simpler treatments, such as "ovulation induction, intrauterine insemination and lifestyle modification". And this happens even though IVF babies have a higher risk of significant health problems.