Potential Laboratory Cost-Savings for a Blastocyst Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) Vitrification (VTF) Program

Schiewe M.C.,1 Gibbs C.,2 Whitney J.B.,1 Jones A.,2 Freeman M.R.,2 and S. Zozula1
1Ovation Fertility, Newport Beach, California
2Ovation Fertility, Nashville, Tennessee

Objective:  We aimed to critically evaluate the cost benefits of a clinically proven non-commercial, aseptic closed VTF system to other commonly used open/hybrid VTF devices, and discuss the importance of cost-savings in today’s assisted reproductive technology (ART) industry.

Design:  Theoretical modeling of 500 PGS/VTF-all cycles was prospectively evaluated to assess costs comparing the use of a non-commercial microSecure (µS) VTF device system to three common commercial systems: Cryolock (CL), Rapid-i (R-i) and High Security Straws (HSV) VTF devices. In the analysis, we assumed a mean of 5 blastocysts biopsied per cycle yielding 2 euploid embryos for 2 vitrified ET (VFET) cycles. Media and solution costs were excluded.

Materials and methods:  Costs were calculated based on protocol and prices used within our laboratory network. The CL VTF procedure used: 5 x CLs ($15.00×5=$75.00), 2 x Stripper tips ($6.17×2=$12.34) and 2 x 4 well dishes ($2.42×2=$4.84). Conversely, the µS-VTF protocol used: 5 x CBS semen/embryo straws ($2.75×5=$13.75), flexipettes ($4.00×6=$24.00) and 2 x 100mm dishes ($0.25×2=$0.50). In considering the potential use of R-i or HSV devices commonly used in the industry, we simply replaced the CL model with higher device costs ($22.50×5=$112.50). Warming costs are particularly low with the µS-VTF technique as the embryo already resides in a flexipette, requiring only: 60 mm warming dishes ($0.25×2=$0.50) and 6-well dilution dishes ($1.40×2=$2.80). Cryolock warming costs required: Stripper tips ($6.17×8=$49.36), organ well dishes ($1.70×2=$3.40), and 4-well dishes ($2.42×2=$4.84).

Results:  The application of the µS-VTF offers significant cost-savings compared to our commercial use of CL devices (see Table). Based on our theoretical model(500 cycles), a total savings of up to $64,275 can be achieved depending on the commercial VTF device used.

Costs ($)    /   VTF Devices: µS CL R-i or HSV
VTF / cycle 38.25a 92.18 b 112.50
Warming / 2 VFET 3.30 a 57.60 b 59.00
Subtotal / cycle 41.55 a 149.78 b 170.10
Total / 500 cycles 20,775 a 74,890 b 85,050
Cost Savings(-) or Increase(+) ($) – 54,115 0 + 10,160
a, b – column values within rows with different superscripts are different (p<0.05; t-test).

Conclusion:   Although VTF expenses represent a fraction (<10%) of a laboratory’s revenue gained from blastocyst biopsy and cryopreservation, the potential savings generated using µS-VTF could support an entry level Reproductive Biologist’s annual salary over 500 VFET cycles.  Cost matters in today’s IVF business, as long as success is not compromised.