21 May 2010
Durgesh Nandan Jha
New Delhi, India
Having a test tube baby will now be as affordable as having a normal delivery. Doctors at AIIMS have successfully completed the IVF cycle on 12 patients at a cost of Rs 20,000, one–third of what is usually charged by the institute. This has been achieved by limiting the number of eggs cells to be produced and the use of smaller amounts of fertility medications such as gonadotropins.
According to Dr Suneeta Mittal, head of the AIIMS IVF centre, the experiment will now be carried forward at different research centres across the country and could be a part of national policy.
’’The use of drugs in smaller quantities will also reduce sideeffects," she said.
Mittal said the initiative is a part of the Affordable IVF for Minimal Stimulation plan by AIIMS started on May 1. ’’In traditional IVF, the focus is on producing as many eggs as possible in each cycle; normally 20–30 eggs. High doses of gonadotropins — protein hormones — are given to the patient. But we use smaller doses of drugs, the aim being to produce six to eight egg cells of which the healthier ones can be used for fertilisation and implantation," she said.
Gonadotropins, used for ovary stimulation, are powerful drugs and cost more than Rs 30,000 per cycle. A patient undergoing IVF procedure is injected with this fertility medicine for 10–11 days.
’’Limiting the number of injections doesn’t affect the success rate of the IVF procedure because for fertilisation we require only two to three egg cells. Instead, it helps in making the process cost–effective, and reduces side effects and patient visits," said Dr Mittal. She added that at AIIMS, the experiment has been successfully carried out on 12 patients. The side effects of unmonitored and heavy dose protein hormones or stimulators include increased risk of multiple pregnancies, kidney failure and water detention.
’’At our hospital, we generally go in for the traditional IVF procedure, aiming to produce a maximum number of egg cells. We charge about Rs one lakh per IVF cycle, of which Rs 60,000–Rs 65,000 is for the IVF technology which includes hormone tests, ultrasound, doctor’s fees etc.
These charges cannot be reduced. So, the patient also wants maximum eggs produced which can be used later in case of failure," said the doctor of a leading private hospital in Delhi which specialises in the procedure.