FYI: FTC Gives Final Approval to Consent Agreement with Arizona Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Ltd.

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The Federal Trade Commission has given final approval to a consent agreement with The Arizona Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Ltd. and its President, Robert H. Tamis, M.D., settling charges that they made deceptive claims regarding the success rate of their in vitro fertilization program. The Commission's action makes the consent order provisions binding on the respondents.

The Commission alleged in the complaint, filed in June 1995, 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. According to the complaint, the Institute's claims were deceptive because it calculated success rates 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 average (17 percent) and the national average cited in the materials (14 percent), the FTC charged.

Under the final order, the Institute and its president are required to possess competent and reliable scientific evidence for any future comparative success-rate claims for fertility services. It also stipulates that any comparison with other success rates be based upon the same calculating methodology. Finally, the settlement prohibits the Institute and its president from misrepresenting the success rate of infertility services.

The consent agreement was announced for a public-comment period on June 20, 1995. The Commission vote to issue it in final form occurred on Sept. 25, 1995 and was 5 - 0.

NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions by the respon dents. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000.

A news release summarizing the complaint and consent agree ment was issued at the time the Commission accepted the consent agreement for public comment. Copies of that release and of the complaint and final order are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at:

(FTC File No. 942 3134)
(Docket No. C-3616)

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