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HFEA backs new consumer law and advertising guidance for IVF clinics

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today launched new guidance for fertility clinics in the UK.

Welcoming the new guidance, Julia Chain, HFEA Chair, said: “As the fertility regulator, we have long been concerned about how some clinics offer their services, but our regulatory powers do not allow us to tackle the commercial aspects of the modern fertility market, where most patients pay for their own treatment.

"We welcome the opportunity to work with the CMA and ASA to develop this new guidance in this unique area of healthcare.

"This is a major step forward for fertility patients as it provides added protection by ensuring that all clinics adhere to consumer and advertising law in addition to our regulatory requirements."

 

By working together with other regulators, we can combine our powers to provide added protection in an evolving, competitive and commercial healthcare market.

 

The new guidance sets out what information clinics must provide to patients and when. It also explains what clinics should do to make sure their terms and practices are fair under consumer law and how to ensure compliance with advertising codes.

We have worked closely with the Competition and Markets Authority and Advertising Standards Authority during the development of the guidance, providing insight into the work of the fertility sector, how clinics operate and the areas we have regulatory responsibility for. The guidance has been developed with input from the HFEA, consultations with key professionals, stakeholder and patient groups, as well as research with patients through consumer research.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has separately issued an enforcement notice to clinics that provides guidance on how clinics should advertise their services and a joint letter from the HFEA, CMA and ASA was sent to clinics to make them aware of the new guidance.

 

What does the CMA IVF guidance mean for patients?

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Review date: 8 September 2023