The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is to issue consumer law guidelines for the IVF sector to ensure that fertility clinics practice in accordance with consumer law.
The CMA is working closely with the sector regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to review current practices in the industry and to devise a set of working guidelines that ensure fertility clinics in the UK are treating patients fairly.
The move comes in response to CMA concerns about mis-selling in the industry of services such as IVF ‘add-on’ treatments, and possible misrepresentation of clinics’ success rates, price transparency and unfair terms.
The CMA will also look at standards of information that should be provided by clinics to enable patients to make informed decisions about treatments and services in what are challenging and emotional circumstances.
There is currently no formal or written guidance on consumer protection law for the IVF sector.
It is hoped the new guidance will help to make clinics aware of their obligations. While it is not clear at present whether any of the UK fertility clinics are in breach of the current consumer protection law, the CMA has warned that ‘enforcement action’ could be implemented if the review committee identifies any deliberate misleading practice.
One area of particular concern is success rates and ensuring clinics are not misleading patients about how successful their treatments are by keeping their success rates up to date in their promotional material.
A draft version of the fertility sector guidance is expected to be published in July 2020 and will undergo a public consultation.