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18 November 2013

UK: Courts affirm role of clinical judgement in multiple embryo transfer

The UK's High Court has ruled that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's actions towards two clinics over a licence condition to impose a maximum multiple birth rate were unlawful.

The HFEA has now decided to withdraw the condition from all UK fertility clinics’ licences, BioNews reports.

Antony Blackburn-Starza writes in BioNews:

‘A national strategy aimed at reducing the multiple birth rate in the UK came into force in 2009. In 2011, as part of an effort to reinforce the policy, the HFEA made it a condition of a fertility clinic’s treatment and storage licence not to exceed the multiple birth rate target – currently set at ten percent.

‘Mr Mohamed Taranissi, person responsible for the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) and the Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI) challenged the HFEA’s decision to impose the condition, known as T123. The Sunday Times reports that Mr Taranissi believed the decision on the number of embryos to be transferred to the patient should be a medical one, taking into account the patient’s age, medical history and chances of conceiving. If his clinics had reached the multiple birth quota midway through the year, they would then be forced to offer all remaining patients only one embryo if they wished to comply with the condition.

‘“It is my understanding that many clinics are not able to meet this target, and that it has already had an adverse impact on pregnancy rates”, he said in a statement. “Clinics with a higher percentage of patients who are over 40 and who have had several failed IVF attempts would have fallen foul of the HFEA’s ten percent condition even though they are simply providing universally recognised standard treatment by transferring two embryos”.

‘Although Mr Taranissi emphasised that he shared the goals around reducing multiple births, he called the licence condition “unworkable” as it failed to allow for a large variation between patients…’

Read the full article here:

HFEA loses legal battle on enforcement of multiple birth quotas. By Antony Blackburn-Starza, BioNews 731, 15 November 2013

Multiple births policy will be discussed by a panel including Mohamed Taranissi and an HFEA representative at the Progress Educational Trust conference ‘Double Take: Twins in Genetics and Fertility Treatment’, taking place in London on Wednesday 4 December 2013.

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