“Simplified” IVF Program Could Cost Just $256
4:15 pm, July 8th | by Grace Rasmus
While in virto fertilization is gaining ground and losing stigma, it is still rarely used among couples suffering from infertility with less than 5 percent seeking it out. Even if they are qualified (which often means the man has a low sperm count or the woman has blocked fallopian tubes), couples are wary of the program’s high cost and complicated procedure with no guarantee of success.
However, those deterred from trying IVF for these reasons might soon be in luck: a team in Belgium just developed a simplified version of the typical IVF program that would cost patients as little as $256 USD.
The team behind the project announced their new methodology at the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual conference in London. The new approach adopts a scaled-down version of the typical IVF lab, using a simple two-tube system to replace special carbon-dioxide incubators, medical gas and air purification systems in which to culture the embryo in a lab dish.
The cost of this simplified program would be just 10 to 15 percent of Western-style IVF programs, the team said. The average cost of one IVF cycle in the U.S. is currently $12,400, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Although the cost varies from hospital to hospital, it rarely goes below $10,000.
The success rate of a typical IVF procedure for women under 35 is 42.9 percent with fresh embryos and 39.3 percent with frozen embryos, reports Attain Fertility, an organization dedicated to fertility education and support. Doctors found that the quality of the embryo and the chance of a successful pregnancy in “low-cost” IVF were on par with the results of conventional lab procedures.
“Our initial results are proof of principle that a simplified culture system designed for developing countries can offer affordable and successful opportunities for infertility treatment where IVF is the only solution,” said Elke Klerkx of the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology. “This is a major step towards universal fertility care… an important breakthrough in terms of human rights, equity and social justice.”