Debate over value and marketing of fertility therapies

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The Wall Street Journal reports on questions being raised about genetic screening, egg freezing and other high-tech fertility therapies. Excerpt:

"As medical science continues to churn out ever-more-sophisticated methods to treat infertility -- from egg freezing to genetic screening of embryos -- desperate would-be parents rush to embrace the latest techniques. But some fertility experts worry that procedures of limited benefit are unfairly raising patients' hopes.

Just last month, a new embryo-screening technique created immediate buzz when it was announced at a meeting of fertility experts. A parent group hailed it as a "breakthrough" that may improve women's chances of having a baby through in-vitro fertilization. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which hosted the meeting, awarded the technique a prize for outstanding research.

But that same day, a related group of experts issued a warning. A committee of the ASRM, together with the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, released a statement urging caution about certain kinds of genetic embryo screening, due to insufficient scientific evidence about the usefulness. A similar concern was noted about egg freezing -- or oocyte cryopreservation -- for healthy woman who want to preserve their eggs for use later in life. The statement called the technique "experimental."

Such warnings join a host of concerns -- including some raised by a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine -- that question the usefulness of advanced fertility treatments for many patients. While such treatments are offered with all kinds of caveats that no baby is guaranteed, the marketing of them may play into the fears of patients facing an emotionally fraught decision. At their worst, critics say, some treatments may interfere with patients' goal of having a baby. And they are expensive, often costing thousands of dollars."

1 Comment

I am a big advocate of women being correctly informed on issues concerning their reproductive health and I can appreciate ASRM’s caution, but egg-freezing has been the standard of care in Italy since 2004!

After doing extensive research about egg freezing, I have found that there have been over 500 babies born worldwide and of the ones that were followed-up, no increase in birth defects were seen.
As a culture I think that we should look at egg freezing as a great advance in reproductive choice.

I have found a company called Extend Fertility, who offer elective egg freezing and their website ( is really full of information!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Schwitzer published on November 16, 2007 9:48 AM.

Call for transparency in Medicare's use of journals was the previous entry in this blog.

"Troubling pattern of behavior by pharmaceutical executives" is the next entry in this blog.

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