Bioethics News

Australian IVF under fire for conflict of interest and misleading advertising

IVF companies in Australia have come under fire following a Four Corners investigation.  

The report, aired on ABC TV on Monday, contained interviews with several couples who had undergone unsuccessful – and at times, exceedingly painful and distressing – IVF treatments. 

The report also explored conflicts of interest and alleged widespread deceptive practices in the IVF industry.

Writing in The Conversation, researchers from Sydney University’s VELIM Centre and Macquarie University said that concerns about conflicts of interest in the IVF industry must not be dismissed.

“Four Corners highlighted the conflicted nature of commercialised IVF, where some IVF doctors are more concerned about their own interests (making money for themselves or their clinics) than they are about their patients.”

It is therefore not unreasonable for people to be concerned some clinicians may be motivated (perhaps unconsciously) by financial conflicts of interest to make decisions that may not be in the best interests of their patients.

Macquarie University health law expert Sonia Allan said serious questions need to be asked of the IVF industry in Australia:

“I think there are ethical issues surrounding the unlimited amount of public funding that is being put towards some of these treatments, and probably perverse incentives for doctors to continue with these treatments because of the increased money that can be made, particularly when the industry has become so commercialised.”

Allan suggested that there is need for external regulation of the IVF industry.

Professor Rob Norman, an Adelaide doctor who is a world authority on reproductive health, told Four Corners of his dismay at the increasing commercialistion of IVF.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.