As news in the fertility treatment world reveal stories of doctors losing licenses and other couples continuing to have multiple births, discussions are arising among governments concerning the regulatory environment of fertility care.
Up until now, the fertility sector in the US has developed mostly under self-regulated standards; however, cases like that of the Octomom doctor, who recently had his license revoked, shine a light on the increased awareness of governments concerning the fragility of fertility treatment and patient protection.
The UK has dealt with fertility care quite differently than the US, with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) currently overseeing fertility clinics across the country. With the understanding of the risk multiple births carry, the authority has enforced a single embryo transfer policy since 2007. In other words, if the Octomom doctor was practicing in the UK, he would not have transferred 12 embryos in the first place. The policy has proven effective in decreasing the occurrence of multiple births, with the IVF multiple birth rate falling from 23.6 percent to 22 percent between 2008 and 2009. The agency isn't stopping there: a new HFEA goal aims to drop the multiple birth rate to 15 percent by spring of 2012 (source: BioNews).
The regulatory environments of the US and UK highlight some interesting differences. With the rising popularity of fertility care (from IVF to surrogacy), the shift towards minimally evasive fertility protocols (including Mini-IVF™ techniques), and a trend among experts towards customizing care, it remains to be seen if this type of intervention will become commonplace in the United States.