The Arizona Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Ltd. and its President, Robert H. Tamis, M.D., have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they made deceptive claims regarding the success rate of their in vitro fertilization program. The FTC alleged that the Institute did not have reliable substantiation for claims it made in promotional materials regarding its comparative success in achieving live births for patients.
The Arizona Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Ltd. is a corporation based in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Commission alleged that the Institute's claims were deceptive because it calculated success rates cited in promotional materials by counting multiple births, such as twins, as multiple deliveries. The Institute's success rates were compared in its materials to national percentages for live births that are collected and published by The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which reports multiple births as single deliveries. Moreover, the FTC alleged that according to the Society's data for 1991, the national average for live births per embryo transfer was approximately 17 percent, rather than the 14 percent the Institute attributed to the Society in its materials. Had the Institute counted multiple births as a single delivery, its statistics for deliveries would have been lower than both the actual national average (17 percent) and the national average cited in the materials (14 percent), the FTC charged.
The proposed FTC settlement would require the Institute and its president to possess competent and reliable scientific evidence for any future comparative success-rate claims for fertility services. It also would stipulate that any comparison with other success rates be based upon the same calculating methodology. Finally, the settlement would prohibit the Institute and its president from misrepresenting the success rate of infertility services.
In addition to the proposed settlement with the Arizona Institute, the FTC has previously brought five cases against providers of infertility services for misrepresenting the success or pregnancy rates of their programs. Four of those cases resulted in consent agreements and, in the fifth, a federal district court permanently prohibited future misrepresentations.
The Commission vote to approve the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 5-0.
The proposed consent agreement will be published in the Federal Register shortly and will be subject to public comment for 60 days, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $10,000.
Copies of the complaint, the proposed consent, an analysis of them to assist the public in commenting, as well as an FTC brochure, "Facts for Consumers: Infertility Services," are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC File No. 942 3134)