By using generic drugs, modularizing the processes to essential steps, and using fewer eggs to start with they've produced an affordable approach to natural conception for couples.
The table below illustrates an example of how each approach saves money and achieves comparable results
If successful, such efforts could lower the cost of IVF everywhere. In the US, the price of one round of treatment can be up to $12,000 and is rarely covered by health insurance. In the UK, it costs about £5000 ($8000), which the National Health Service may or may not pay for, depending on where a couple lives.
"Most of what we do in the western world is overkill," says Jonathan Van Blerkom of the University of Colorado at Boulder, a member of the ESHRE team. "If you get these procedures down to a low cost and they are successful, you cannot justify charging $12,000 for an IVF cycle."
The conclusion that is really interested here is the possibility of IVF latching on to a growing trend of South-North technology transfer: solutions aimed at the developing world that may very be useful for industrialized countries (e.g., OLPC--> Netbooks, Mobile phone 3G--> Pervasive Mobile Computing)
In contrast, the New York Times Science section recently ran a story on the rising costs of IVF back home.
A large portion of the expense comes from carrying multiple babies and the risks they carry as all too frequent premature births. It looks as if the CDC is talking to their African counterparts. The Times reports they hired an economist to look at the numbers.
In Atlanta, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hired an economist to predict what would happen if single embryo transfer were used in a large number of IVF cases.
Dr. Macaluso, the C.D.C. reproductive health official, estimates the patients, businesses and insurance providers would save more than $500 million annually, even taking into consideration the cost of extra in-vitro rounds, by lowering neonatal intensive care, special education and other costs of premature babies.