Karen Lancaster,
Liza Morris,



Pioneers of START SMART Program Praise ASRM Recommendation to Transfer Only Two Embryos for IVF Procedures in Patients Under 35

WEST ORANGE, NJ, Nov. 17, 1999 - Organon Inc., makers of the fertility treatment FOLLISTIM® (follitropin beta for injection) and sponsors of the START SMART educational program for couples exploring assisted reproductive technology (ART), today announced its enthusiastic support of new recommendations by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) that only two embryos be transferred into women under age 35 undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

ASRM issued the revised practice guidelines last week. They are reinforced by a study published in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which concludes that maternal age and the number of embryos transferred directly correlate to the risk of multiple births. The study, authored by researchers in the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control, analyzed the results of 35,554 IVF transfer procedures.

ASRM's new guidelines also state that the number of embryos transferred during IVF procedures can be augmented, at patient and physician discretion, based on the increasing age of the patient and the quality of the embryos. During IVF procedures, eggs are removed from a woman, fertilized with sperm, then transferred into her uterus for implantation. Doctors often transfer more than one fertilized egg since not all of them may implant and achieve a successful pregnancy.

Organon launched the START SMART program in June of 1999 to help patients fully understand the risks, benefits and opportunities associated with ART treatments. In 1996, a record 6,000 babies were born in sets of three or more, according to government statistics. Research shows that high-order multiple birth babies are more likely to be born premature and underweight, which can lead to vision and hearing impairments, mental retardation, developmental delays and even death. Mothers also face complicated, dangerous pregnancies.

"Organon is proud to provide innovative therapies to help couples experiencing infertility have the families they long for," said Hans Vemer, M.D., president of Organon and an obstetrician/gynecologist. "Yet pharmaceutical companies and clinicians alike must do all we can to educate patients, minimize risks and advocate responsible use of cutting-edge fertility treatments. Through programs such as START SMART and the wise recommendations of ASRM, we are taking a step in the right direction."

The START SMART program consists of several elements intended for couples about to begin ART techniques. Educational fact sheets accompany a video that explore ART and how the treatments work. The START SMART video, which has been distributed to hundreds of fertility treatment centers around the country, focuses on the A, R and T of Assisted Reproductive Technology: Asking questions of doctors and nurses, Reading and Researching the course of treatment a doctor prescribes, and Talking to doctors and nurses throughout the treatment process.

Organon introduced the first recombinant follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), FOLLISTIM, available in the U.S. for the treatment of infertility. It works by stimulating the ovaries to produce one or more eggs during the treatment cycle. FOLLISTIM can be self-injected using a small needle for skin-deep injections, instead of the larger needle for deep-muscle injections required by many older generation fertility treatments.

Organon Inc. of West Orange, NJ is the US affiliate of N.V. Organon, a renowned international ethical pharmaceutical company whose reproductive health products also include HUMEGON" and PREGNYL® and the oral contraceptives MIRCETTE" and DESOGEN®. Organon maintains a strong commitment to healthcare, conducting research in the areas of psychiatry, contraception, fertility, anesthesiology, thrombosis, immunology, osteoporosis prevention, and treatment of post-menopausal symptoms.

Organon is one of the business units of Akzo Nobel N.V. Headquartered in Arnhem, The Netherlands, Akzo Nobel serves customers throughout the world with healthcare products, coatings, chemicals, and fibers. The company employs 86,000 people in more than 70 countries, in which consolidated sales for 1998 totaled $13.8 billion. In North America alone, Akzo Nobel employs approximately 10,000 people in 125 locations, including its U.S. headquarters in Chicago. Akzo Nobel's North American sales total approximately $3 billion annually. The company's American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) are traded on NASDAQ under the symbol AKZOY.

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Edtior's note: For visuals of START SMART materials, visit