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To save money, some U.S. fertility patients buy fertility drugs from overseas pharmacies where they are offered at much lower prices than at home. Some buy their fertility drugs from Mexico, Canada and Europe in person or online. Others pursue lower prices in developing countries. We’ve even heard of a woman who sent her prescription to relatives in Israel, where they filled it for a third of the cost locally. Obtaining controlled substances from a foreign source via the internet or mail order is illegal unless you are an approved, registered importer with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions that drugs bought on the Internet from foreign countries may not be up to their standards. Buying drugs overseas can be risky, especially in developing countries where drug counterfeiting may be common and manufacturing and storage practices may be inadequate. Experts say that even if you're in a European country and get a prescription from a doctor there, you need to be careful. There are dozens of drugs whose names or spellings are similar — or even identical — to those of drugs in the U.S. but have completely different active ingredients and uses overseas. In addition, overseas drugs often come in different dosages from their U.S. counterparts.
Think Twice Before Heading to Mexico for Fertility Drugs
Mexico has become a popular supplier of drugs for many because it is easily accessible. But, the dangers are numerous. Here are some things to consider:
- Medical studies show that one in five drugs purchased in Mexico is counterfeit or substandard.
- Many Mexican pharmacy employees do not have any medical training.
- You have no recourse if the drugs you purchase are worthless or do you harm.
- In many cases, you do not know where the drugs were made or how they were handled.
- If you receive directions for use at all, they might not be in English.
- Breaking U.S. laws regarding importation of foreign drugs may lead to your arrest in the U.S.
- Breaking Mexican laws regarding purchasing of drugs may lead to your arrest in Mexico, and penalties for drug offenses are strict.
- You must declare the drugs at Customs upon your return. Customs permits people to bring back reasonable amounts of medications for personal use, but does not allow stockpiling or purchasing large amounts of drugs.
- If you do bring a prescription drug that is a controlled substance into the U.S. from Mexico, it must be for legitimate personal medical use. If you lie to customs about having drugs and you are caught, the consequences could be simple, like having the drugs taken away, or very serious, such as going to jail.
Experts say that cash strapped patients should shop around. Prices may vary depending on where you purchase drugs. Specialty fertility pharmacies and online pharmacies are just two options.