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Buying Fertility Drugs
Fertility drugs are expensive. In fact, fertility drugs can make up a large portion of the overall cost of your fertility treatments. Depending on your age, ovarian response, diagnosis, and other factors, the cost of your fertility medication will vary greatly.
So what you do you do when you are handed your fertility medication prescription? Run to the nearest pharmacy? Quite the contrary. You have many choices in terms of where to buy your medications. Since we are talking about thousands of dollars in medications alone, price differences at various pharmacies can end up being pretty significant overall. Let’s look at some of your options.
Your Clinic’s Pharmacy
Some fertility clinics have an in-house pharmacy as part of their practice.
Pros: Clearly, your clinic’s pharmacy might be very convenient. And you can’t beat the direct line of communication between the internal pharmacist and your doctor which can quickly clear up any problems or miscommunications that may arise. Also, clinic pharmacies tend to be more lenient in terms of refunding unopened packages in case your medications are changed or your cycle is canceled.
Cons: Clinic pharmacies are typically not the cheapest option. Pharmacy overhead is expensive, so the extra costs will be added to your bill somewhere. Additionally, you might be penalized if you choose to not use the clinic pharmacy. Some clinics will charge you up to $250 for going elsewhere—adding it to your bill, or billing this charge to you separately.
Specialty Fertility Pharmacies
There are a growing number of smaller, independent pharmacies that specialize only in fertility medications.
Pros: Fertility pharmacists are extremely knowledgeable about fertility clinics and their protocols. And you can’t beat their customer service. These types of pharmacies are great at helping you deal with emergency situations, such as overnight deliveries, last-minute medication changes, or middle-of-the-night questions.
Cons: This type of specialized and personalized service can result in added costs. Depending on their relationships with individual pharmaceutical companies, not all specialty fertility pharmacies carry all medications, and there might be significant price differences between these pharmacies.
For the last several years, many online pharmacies have emerged. Some specialty fertility pharmacies sell a large portion their medications online and many of the larger pharmacies have their own comprehensive websites as well. Since just about anyone can set up a website, it is critical you use only reputable and safe online pharmacies. A good pharmacy website should be located in the U.S., have a licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions, require prescriptions from your doctor, provide access to a customer service representative 24/7, and have a VIPPS Seal of Approval indicating they abide by strict standards and are a National Boards of Pharmacy Verified Internet Pharmacy.
Pros: Online pharmacies can be both convenient and cost-effective. You simply submit your prescription and your medications are sent directly to your door (usually overnight and sometimes even with free shipping).
Cons: Always check and make sure you have easy access to a pharmacist who understands fertility medications in case any issues come up. There might also be hidden costs: some online pharmacies will charge you a fee to join their services or for extras like syringes and sharps containers. Always read the fine print and know what you can expect.
Whenever we get a prescription, often our first reaction is just to go to our local pharmacy closest to home or work.
Pros: If you regularly use a particular pharmacist, he or she is going to know you, your overall health history, and any other medications you are taking. You may feel more comfortable talking with your personal pharmacist, and the convenience is always a plus.
Cons: Most local pharmacies do not routinely carry fertility medications, especially the highly-potent injectables. Because they don’t just deal with these types of medications very often, they are not equipped to handle any problems, such as specific fertility medication questions or getting you certain medications as quickly as possible.
Since we already go to these types of mega-stores for everything from groceries to clothes to electronics, why not add in medications? A one-stop-shop, right?
Pros: Sometimes pharmacies in big-box drugstores have great deals on a few of the very basic fertility-treatment necessities. For example, they might include prenatal vitamins, insulin-sensitizers, estrogen, progesterone, antibiotics, and even Clomid on their deeply discounted $4 generic medication list. So it is always a good idea to check this list and bring it with you to your doctor when you discuss your medication options.
Cons: These stores are never going to have the more expensive and highly-potent injectable medications on their discount list. And due to their sheer patient volume, they aren’t going to have the time or expertise to answer complicated questions about your fertility medications. Not to mention, they are banking on the fact that you are going to buy a whole lot of extra stuff on your way in and out of the pharmacy section. Any money you save on prescriptions will likely be spent on other items in the store.
A lot is riding on these medications so make sure you are a savvy shopper. Maximize your chances for success by knowing your options and shopping around for the best prices and quality customer service.