IVF medication to be added to government formulary by summer

Medications for couples who undergo IVF treatment are expected to be added to the government formulary by summer, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, refunds will be given for treatment received since January 1.

The measure was first announced last year, with Prime Minister Robert Abela saying last Sunday that the refund scheme for IVF patients would be launching shortly. 

Chief Medical Officer Walter Busuttil explained that, from this week, a designated official at the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Clinic in Mater Dei will be overseeing the process and helping people fill out their forms, which must be collected on-site. 

Patients must indicate whether they have undergone intrauterine insemination, embryo transfer or stimulated cycle. The form also includes a section where patients can leave their bank details and IBAN number so that payments can be made to them directly. 

Patients will be entitled to receive a refund of €500 for intrauterine insemination, €1,000 for an embryo transfer or €2,500 for a stimulated cycle. 

Busuttil added that patients who had spent more than these amounts for their medication will be refunded the difference provided that receipts and prescriptions are presented with their application. 

252 ‘little miracles’

Fearne said that since the government had started offering IVF services on the national health service, 252 “little miracles” had been born to Maltese parents. 

“Some of these children already go to school, some of them are lively or even a little naughty, but without a doubt, their existence is one of the most beautiful things I’ve had the privilege to be a part of throughout my political career,” he said. 

Currently, there are 24 pregnant women who are carrying children thanks to IVF treatment offered by the government, with 27 babies expected in total, as some of the women are expecting twins. 

In 2021, Mater Dei’s ART clinic had a so-called “take-home baby” rate of 21.5%, which is good and comparable to reputable clinics overseas, he said. 

The government, he added, has provided most of the services related to IVF for free, including consultations, blood tests, ultrasounds, embryo transfers and counselling at every stage of the procedure. Fearne said that the cost of seeking IVF treatment privately was likely to be in the realm of €15,000, with the cost going up to €20,000 if the procedure involves gamete donation.

He added that the government was looking to expand the operation of the ART clinic over the next year to make up for a reduction in services that were necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We want to continue giving courage to those couples who want to start a family and see more new lives and more happy mums, dads and even grandparents for the years to come,” he said.

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