Anyone who has shopped for drugs and had to pay for them out of pocket knows that in the US, medication can get very expensive, very quickly. Same goes for IVF meds. They are very expensive. The sad truth for most of us when it comes to IVF medication is that no insurance company will pick up the tab. That is… unless you’re one of the lucky few with amazing insurance coverage.
Drug prices can be exorbitantly expensive. For some reason, we seem to think it’s a good idea that pharmaceutical companies arbitrarily set their own prices and have long patents preventing generic drug makers from stepping in and… I’m sure there a million reasons. Well, this is just how the system is right now, and until it changes, all we can do is take it.
But… what if we don’t have to just take it?
Don’t Go With the Flow
Maybe you know that most people are not very good at taking care of their personal finances. If you want to do a better job than the Joneses, you should avoid doing “stuff” the same way everyone else is doing “stuff”. Go against the grain!
- Don’t buy a new car every year (trust me, your car won’t fall apart when it’s a few years old!)
- Don’t eat out all the time (there’s nothing wrong with a home-cooked meal!)
- Don’t just assume Social Security will be enough to retire on (add some money to that 401k)
I could go on and on. The same can be said when talking about prescription IVF medication…
- Don’t just assume you have to get your meds at Walgreens or CVS, just because everyone else does.
Online IVF Pharmacies
The best way to save more than 50% on your IVF drugs is by not playing the brick-and-mortar game but to get your prescription filled online. You see, the internet is not just there to facilitate your Netflix binge-watching addiction or your Amazon shopping problem.
Just as you can go abroad for IVF treatment, you can also order IVF meds from overseas. Online IVF pharmacies provide IVF drugs by getting their medications locally (local to them, not you). These websites are situated in Canada or Europe and specifically cater to the IVF market in expensive countries (like the US).
They pass on the cost savings to you. If they don’t pay American prices, then neither will you.
A simple Google search turns up a bunch of these pharmacies. Granted, their websites aren’t the prettiest, but then again, nobody said pharmacists are good web-designers, right?
I’m not saying you should blindly trust any website claiming they can legally provide you with your IVF medication. Make sure that:
- They provide FDA approved drugs (for which you have a prescription!)
- They ask to see said prescription
- They ask you to verify your identity
- Research (Google) a pharmacy and read reviews before buying anything
- And finally: use common sense, you don’t want to get scammed… does it pass the smell test?
Are You Allowed to Buy IVF Drugs Online?
Let me start by saying that I am not a lawyer. But here’s what one online IVF pharmacy has to say about it (IVFpharmacy.com):
“Am I allowed to import these meds? Are there any limits on the medications I can order?
In the USA, you are entitled to order drugs from abroad provided the following criteria are met:
- You have a valid prescription from your doctor
- Medications purchased are for personal use and not for resale
- The order is for a maximum of three months of treatment”
WebMD wrote a lengthy article on the matter, saying that if you go down this path, you have to make sure the drug is: FDA approved, not a banned substance, only for short-term personal use, is made outside the US, and you have a valid prescription. Good thing the main fertility drugs are approved by the FDA!
IVF Medication Price Comparison
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s do a little price comparison of some common IVF drugs. All pricing information was sourced from goodrx.com and specific online IVF pharmacy websites.
I decided to look at these common IVF drugs (even if you were prescribed a different type of drug, the idea is the same!):
1. Follicle Stimulation Hormones (rFSH)
- Gonal-F – Follitropin Alfa
- Follistim (Puregon) – Follitropin Beta
2. Menopausal gonadotropins (hMG)
- Menopur – Menotropin
3. GnRH antagonists
- Ganirelix – Ganirelix acetate
- Cetrotide – Cetrorelix
4. Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
- Ovidrel (Ovitrelle) – Chorionic Gonadotropin
- Novarel (Pregnyl) – Chorionic Gonadotropin
As you can see, we can keep this short and sweet.
Local pharmacies = expensive. Online pharmacies = cheap.
There are huge price differences in the expensive stimulants. Gonal-F and Follistim cost 4 to 5 times less than what it would cost at a US pharmacy.
I’m not advocating that you buy drugs online, it’s not for everyone and you need to do some due diligence. If you’re uncomfortable with it, then don’t. But it is possible to literally save thousands of dollars.
If you choose to get your meds locally, be sure to compare prices on GoodRx. They will point you to the cheapest local pharmacy and tell you which coupons to use.
Our Own Experience
Our own experience (more about that in Part 4 of the IVF Diary posts) was great. Meds were shipped to us within a few days and we received the package about a week later. Based on this previous experience, we wouldn’t hesitate to do the same again. In fact, that’s exactly what we did now that Mrs. Frugalcrib needs a small order of meds for the upcoming frozen embryo transfer (FET)!
Tip: If you’re undergoing IVF treatments outside the US (e.g. the Czech Republic), make sure to ask your doctor whether the clinic’s pharmacy can provide you with the necessary medication. That’s often even cheaper than online pharmacies!