The internet is a shopaholic’s dream come true - every product in every style, size, and color available from every store and open 24 hours. Bargains can be hunted down with just a few clicks of a mouse. The extreme ease of buying things, especially cheap things, on the internet has led one doctor in Ohio to send out the cry that buyers should beware, especially if fertility drugs are on the shopping list.
Michael Thomas, MD, says care is vital “because you don’t know what you are getting on the internet.” Thomas, Director of the OB/GYN Reproductive Endocrinology Division of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, cautions that even drugs that seem to come from legitimate pharmaceutical outlets can be deceiving.
Thomas understands how the overwhelming desire to have a baby when the odds seem stacked against you can make doing it yourself, via the internet, an attractive temptation. Fertility treatments can be expensive. The drugs alone can cost as much as $4,000 per cycle. Online, what appear to be the same drugs, can be purchased at auction or from pharmacies offering discount rates and overnight shipping.
The problem, according to Thomas, is that you never really know what you’re getting online. There’s no way to confirm potency when ordering online and too much or too little of a fertility drug can cause big problems, including physical harm that can interfere with other fertility treatments. Some of the online scams Thomas warns about include:
- Saltwater / baby powder mix labeled as an FDA-approved drug
- Past-due expiration dates
- Damaged drugs due to inferior storage methods
- False packaging
- Foreign nation regulations and quality control standards that don’t meet US mandates
Fertility drugs are like all prescription medications, according to Thomas. They should be taken only by the person for whom they are prescribed. Sharing drugs, including fertility drugs, with friends or family members can be as dangerous as ordering phony drugs online.
In the US, the cost of fertility drugs doesn’t vary much from one retail pharmacy to the next, making it rather futile to look for significant price breaks. Thomas advises discussing the cost of these medications with your fertility specialist and his / her staff to scale down the price.
Staff members will know of FDA-approved specialty pharmacies that sell at wholesale prices but they do so only to licensed medical facilities. They don’t sell directly to the public, in person or online.
Someone in the doctor’s office can often make arrangements for a patient to purchase the needed medications at wholesale rates but the sale must be made in the doctor’s office by office personnel. Furthermore, the sale will be made using the phone or fax, never the internet.
Source: “HEALTH LINE: Dangers of Buying Fertility Drugs Online.” UC HealthNews. University of Cincinnati. Sep 9, 2013. Web. Dec 23, 2013.