IVF drug funding could be reduced in Quebec

Quebec could reduce funding for medications used in fertility treatments, four months after it ended publicly funded in-vitro fertilization procedures, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said.

'IVF is one thing. To raise a child is another thing,' Gaétan Barrette says

Quebec will still provide tax credits, up to 80 per cent depending on income, to cover medication for in-vitro fertilization. (Dr. Thomas Hannam)

Quebec could reduce funding for medications used in fertility treatments next month, four months after it ended publicly funded fertilization procedures, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette says.

Barrette said the province is reviewing funding for the drugs associated with fertility treatments, which can cost around $5,000 per cycle.

Some people trying to conceive go through several cycles.

Last November, Quebec eliminated public funding for the full cost of the clinical procedure of fertilizing and implanting eggs, which can run up to $10,000.

However, couples were still eligible for tax credits for 20 to 80 per cent of costs, based on their income.

The same rules will likely apply to drugs used in these treatments. The province currently pays 80 per cent of the cost of the medications.

'Raising a child is also a cost'

Barrette said the cost of in-vitro fertilization is roughly similar to the annual cost of raising a child.

"IVF is one thing. To raise a child is another thing," the minister said.

"The costs that are involved in IVF are, at the end, closely similar to the cost of raising a child. So if the IVF in itself is an obstacle, if the cost is an obstacle to have a child, well I have something to say, which is that raising a child is also a cost."

An advocacy group for infertile couples said some of its members are already stocking up on drugs.

"Infertility is a disease. They're leaving us with a disease," said Martine Vallée Cossette of the Association des Couples Infertiles du Québec.

"A lot of couples are not able to have the treatment. Some people will go to the bank, take a loan, and it will be even more awful for them."

The new restrictions on fertility drugs are being studied by INESSS, a provincial institute that makes recommendations on which drugs and medical technologies should be covered by the government.

Barrette said he expects INESSS to recommend the new restriction in March.

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