This is Part 4 of the IVF Diary series. I’ll be keeping a diary of all important IVF days, starting from when we first chose to undergo infertility treatment in Prague. Click here to read all other IVF diary posts.
Getting IVF treatment abroad brings its own set of challenges, one of them being the fact that you can’t just pop into your local CVS to pick up your meds. But, life would be boring without its fair share of challenges, right? (#keepfoolingyourselfgirl).
Obtaining IVF Meds With a Foreign Prescription
There are a couple of options to get your fix of IVF meds and none of them involve meeting up with your local street corner dealer. Apparently, there’s not really a market for that.
1. Have Your US Doctor Reissue The Prescription
During the Skype consult, I asked them how all their other American patients got their meds. The doctor said most people take the (foreign) prescription to their own doctors. Talk to your doctor, an OBGYN would probably be your best bet.
As luck would have it, in the last couple of months I’ve developed a relationship with my OBGYN, and I feel comfortable enough to ask my doctor for a prescription. With “developed a relationship” I actually mean that I call them all the time for stuff and they keep telling me I should really try to limit my calls to once a day, as they rather not block my number again.
I kid, I kid, I rarely talk to them these days.
Anyway, I decided not to go this route as I wasn’t planning on getting my meds from a US pharmacy anyway.
2. Ordering IVF Meds From an Online Pharmacy
Doesn’t this almost sound as sketchy as meeting up with the street corner dealer? Let me assure you it’s not. I too was very skeptical when I first read about people claiming to save tons of money by ordering their IVF drugs from an online pharmacy. I kept imagining people’s shocked faces after ordering “Gonal-F” but instead receiving “Gonad-F”, instead.
Just like that time my little brother got an amazing deal on a Rolex, only to find out he bought a Rolek instead. Poor kid.
Luckily, it’s nothing like that. It’s not going to be a knockoff product, and you won’t be embarrassed around your friends. If you order from a reputable website, you get the real, genuine, medicine. Many countries have predetermined limits on how much pharmaceutical companies can charge for a certain drug. Specialized online IVF pharmacies in said countries cater to residents from other countries who don’t limit the amount they can charge for getting your follicles supersized (hi there, United States of America).
Best thing is they’re very much accustomed to foreign prescriptions, so there is no reason to stalk your US doctor! People from all over the world use online pharmacies so they’re used to seeing these kinds of prescriptions.
Of course, check your local laws if doing this is allowed, but for most places, it should be alright as long as you have a valid prescription and it’s strictly for personal use.
3. Ask Your IVF Clinic If They Can Hook You Up
Option 3 is great if you’re planning to stay abroad for a while. Most people need to start their medication quite a few days before the actual IVF procedure, so you need to plan accordingly. Does your clinic abroad have a pharmacy on site you can use? How much do they charge? Our clinic sent us a price list of all the IVF meds they carry and they were by far the cheapest out of all options.
Do the math though, as you’ll probably spend more money on hotels if you go this route. After all, you need to get to the clinic early to pick up your meds.
We went with a mix of option 2 and 3. I ordered enough meds to cover the first week of treatment, and after that (when all the follow-up appointments start) we’ll pick up the rest at the clinics’ pharmacy.
How much does it cost?
So how much will we pay for one cycle of IVF drugs? Take a look at the table below.
First, you’ll see the prices if we go with option 1 and conveniently picked up the meds at our local pharmacy (Walmart). Goodrx.com is an excellent source to check how much each pharmacy charges, use that to your advantage. The cheapest for us was Walmart, so I used them for this example.
In the next column, you see what we would have to pay if we’d go with option 2 (online pharmacy). These costs were taken from IVFPharmacy.com. The savings are pretty extreme. You could basically do an extra two IVF cycles abroad for all the money you save, just by ordering the drugs online.
The third option is what our IVF clinic in Prague charges. They charge even less. Just 15% of what you’d pay at Walmart!! How does that…? Why on earth…? What the …? … I don’t even know what to say.
The last column is what I personally will be paying for my drugs. The Gonal-F (1 injection pen out of 2) was ordered from the online pharmacy and I’ll pick up the rest at the clinic.
Honestly, ordering online was very pretty painless. You need to upload a scan of your prescription and a copy of your government ID, plus fill out the contact information of your doctor so they can verify it all. I ordered the Gonal-F on a Monday, got shipping confirmation with tracking on Wednesday, and the meds were delivered exactly one week later.
Make sure you do your research when ordering online. I read a lot of reviews before I ordered to made sure they were legit.
I read the leaflet, watched a couple of instruction videos on YouTube and now I feel just about ready to start the injections. All that’s left is one final pre-treatment ultrasound to make sure there are no polyps/cysts/fibroids that could interfere with treatment and wait for my next cycle to start. That also means that I need to call my local OBGYN once again for that ultrasound (sorry doc!).
So dear readers, would you ever consider ordering meds abroad? Or have you ever done so?
In Part 5, I discuss my pre-treatment ultrasounds and how I almost set myself up for a big medical bill (but in the end was able to redeem myself!).