Private hospitals offer women 'twin' pills

Updated: 2011-07-27 07:37

By Li Wenfang (China Daily)

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Couples hope treatment will counter family planning policy

GUANGZHOU - Some private hospitals in Guangdong province are providing medicines that stimulate ovulation to women who are trying to bypass the family planning policy by having multiple births.

Some Internet stores are avoiding supervision and selling these medicines, dubbed "multiple baby pills", although they can be supplied only with a doctor's prescription for the treatment of infertility.

Most of the private hospitals interviewed said they prescribe such medicines only in treating infertility, but some said they do so to give their clients a higher chance of having multiple births, reported Guangzhou Daily.

"We have helped 60,000 couples get pregnant in the past 15 years and twins are common. Regular hospitals don't do it," said a customer service person at one hospital.

The medicine costs a few hundred yuan and the hospital monitors the pregnancy and guides the client during the process, the person said.

"If not taken properly, it produces side effects. Correctly taken, there is no problem at all. We are very experienced," the person said.

Guangzhou Women's Hospital, a private business, treats women for multiple births, consulting personnel at the hospital told China Daily.

A TV commercial for the hospital's infertility treatment even says: "You may get twins."

The so-called "multiple baby pills", including clomifene citrate and recombinant FSH, are available on the Internet.

A woman may produce more than one ovum or even up to 20 ova after taking the pills. This increases the probability of having a multiple birth.

The abuse of the medicines also occurs in Jiangsu province, Yangzhou Evening News reported.

Although no official figures are available, some hospitals in the country are recording markedly more cases of multiple births. Meanwhile, China's infertility rate is increasing, as it is all over the world.

"'Multiple baby pills' are prescription medicines and are used under strict control at hospitals. If abused, they can do serious harm," said Liao Zhiqiong, an obstetrician at the No 2 Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University.

The harmful side effects include miscarriage, premature delivery and defects in babies.

The health department of Guangdong has not yet carried out a check on the abuse of such medicines and has no information on it, said a spokesman.

In a related development, Guangdong, China's most populous province, has officially asked the central government for permission to relax the application of the country's family planning policy and allow qualified local couples to have two children.

Couples in which either the husband or wife is an only child will be allowed to have a second child, if the family planning policy is relaxed, said Zhang Feng, director of the Guangdong population and family planning commission, earlier this month.

Lin Xiang contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 07/27/2011 page7)