Take Part In A Fertility Drug Clinical Trial
One of the best ways to receive fertility drugs absolutely free is to agree to take part in a clinical trial. While there aren’t as many new fertility drugs being developed now as there have been in the past, pharmaceutical companies are still testing out new methods for administering the old ones, says Dr. Falcone. And while you should always be sure to read every word of the consent form, you generally don’t have to worry about being a guinea pig for a potentially dangerous drug or getting a placebo. “It’s just the nuances being tested; they might ask you to take an established drug at night instead of in the morning, or use a pen instead of a needle,” Dr. Falcone explains.
If you do get into a randomized test for a new fertility drug, chances are it is one that has already been used successfully in Europe; if you’re chosen for the control group, you’ll simply get the old drug you would have been prescribed anyway—except you get it for free. If you’re interested in participating in fertility drug research, ask your reproductive endocrinologist for more information.
Finding Fertility Drug Bargains Safely
Spend just a few minutes on an infertility message board or in a clinic waiting room and you’re sure to hear about the many other ways women have figured out to acquire their pricey fertility drugs at a discount. “When I was going through infertility, I bought medications from a former patient who had posted a sign in my doctor’s office,” admits Kathryn Kaycoff Manos, who now runs a fertility and surrogacy agency in southern California. “When that supply ran out, I took to the Internet.”
Most advocacy-group message boards, like those on the Resolve and INCIID websites, immediately remove any posts from women attempting to sell their leftover fertility meds. But patients still report that they have no trouble finding sellers. However, as Manos now cautions all her clients, the risks of buying fertility medications from unlicensed parties are very real.
First of all, it’s illegal to sell drugs without a state-issued pharmacist’s license, and the Food and Drug Administration warns that drugs bought over the Internet from foreign countries may not be up to U.S. standards. Besides worrying about breaking the law, you also have to worry whether the drugs are contaminated, expired, or even counterfeit. “Pharmacists are obsessive about keeping track of lot numbers in case there is a recall, and they are obsessive about storing drugs in the proper conditions,” says Dr. Falcone. “If you buy them over the Internet, you don’t know if they’ve been tampered with, or if they’ve been sitting on the floor of a hot post office for days.”
In the end, your best ally in finding affordable fertility meds may be right in front of you. “Ask the nurse in your clinic to help you find a good pharmacy or steer you toward a scholarship program,” suggests Dr. Falcone. “They’re usually better informed than even your doctor.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of Conceive Magazine.