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The future of fertility policy in the context of the genomics revolution

Louisa Ghevaert was delighted to be invited to attend the Public Policy Projects (PPP) business breakfast with Professor Lord Robert Winston at The Law Society in London on 9 April 2019 and debate “The future of fertility policy in the context of the genomics revolution”.

PPP is an independent cross-party policy organisation chaired by Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell, which offers practical policy analysis and development in health, care and other public services.  Working in partnership with LaingBuisson, it brings together the most influential senior thought leaders, investors, policy makers and commentators in the health, care and other private and public sectors to debate key issues. PPP has hosted everyone from Secretaries of State to the Chief Medical Officer, Chairs of NHS Improvement and senior leaders such as Lord Heseltine.

Professor Lord Winston delivered a keynote speech on “The future of IVF Policy in the context of the Genomics Revolution”. He spoke about the efficacy of IVF treatment and the increasingly important science and practice surrounding the human genome and epigenetics in maximising successful outcomes for fertility patients. He also warned of the serious risks and ethical implications of making changes to the genome in human embryos.

There followed a ‘state of the market’ report by Hugh Risebrow, author of the LaingBuisson IVF Report. He projected accelerated growth of the IVF sector of around 3% per annum, representing a market value of £320m. Darren Stenlake, Chairman of the Board at the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) then spoke about the continuing innovation and importance of in vitro diagnostics in improving success rates for patients.

Louisa Ghevaert highlighted that rapid changes in medicine, science and technology continue to challenge and outpace law, policy and regulation. She stressed that this rapidly evolving landscape requires a root and branch overhaul of law and policy in the UK to ensure it is fit for purpose. Law and policy makers need to take account of the fundamental and structural changes and on-going developments in the advancement and delivery of medicine, science and technology in the UK and internationally. The landscape in the 21st century is now very different and that requires a quantum shift in thinking and an enlightened and cohesive approach to legislation. Whilst the prospect of personalised and preventative medicine is welcome, there remains a responsibility for law and policy makers to take proactive measures now to regulate this fast-moving innovation and its very significant future legacy.

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