Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Problem Just Goes Underground

A friend the other day accused me of seeking out things that annoy me. This was following me posting a link to the Twitter feed that is promoting the execrable piece of HIV denialism House of Numbers. No, not the idiots at Raindance; someone else. As I explained to said friend, I tend not to hunt these people out. The joy of Twitter is that these people find me, c/o dumb computers and Twitter bots.

It is equally true that, as a result of having to ride the underground, I routinely encounter ads that are just plain wrong. Mainly these are for Vitabiotics (with their tiny tiny "this product probably isn't for you" writing) but tonight's journey offered up the Zhai clinic. They use a holistic, traditional Chinese approach to fertility treatment, boast a 70% success rate, and speak of Dr Xiao-Ping Zhai, who does not appear to be on the GMC register.

Thank heavens for camera phones and the ASA website, what?

The ad stated the clinic, which employs traditional Chinese medicine, enjoyed a 70% success rate. It also made a reference to a Dr Xiao-Ping Zhai.

I would be curious to know whether they can substantiate the 70% claim, and whether or not Mr Zhai is medically qualified.

It transpires that Zhai Clinic is listed under the HFEA, the authority in charge of fertility clinics. They are a "satellite clinic" for the London Fertility Clinic, which means "[the] assessment of patients, drug therapy and monitoring may take place [there] but the egg collection, mixing of sperm and eggs, embryo culturing and embryo replacement are all carried out at the primary clinic". The Zhai ad talks about traditional Chinese medicine - it is "Where Conception Comes Naturally". The implication is that the 70% success rate claimed (the website makes a claim of "about 80%") is attached to this incorporation of TCM; both the ad and the website downplay the role of the rather unnatural IVF program. Either 70% of couples conceive naturally, without IVF, or they conceive unnaturally with, to quote Zhai's site "artificial, invasive fertility treatments", or the 70% figure, which is high even for IVF, has been plucked out of the sky.

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