The Internet has revolutionized the way millions of Americans get health care information. Hundreds of thousands of Web sites have been launched to cater to almost every health-related issue and product. Now many sites are also involved in the e-commerce of selling prescription drugs, fertility drugs included. You’ll find eShopping for prescriptions on licensed U.S. pharmacy sites, where safeguards are in place to guard against fraudulent prescriptions and inferior products. But you’ll also see drugs being marketed by illegitimate sellers, such as foreign companies. There are even individuals who market their leftover medications in infertility chat rooms and on Internet bulletin boards. Buying any prescription drug from an illegitimate source is risky business at best. But because fertility drugs require special handling to maintain their effectiveness, and effectiveness is paramount, the e-buyer should truly beware of online fertility drug purchases. Here are some critical DOs and DON’Ts for buying fertility drugs over the Internet:
- DO buy your fertility medications from a licensed U.S. pharmacy, using the prescription from your doctor. Licensed U.S. pharmacies provide medications that meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) high standards for safety and effectiveness.
- DO look for National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal of approval. This program was developed in 1999 to highlight sites that adhere to stringent licensing and inspection standards. (Please note that since the VIPPS program is new, your specialty pharmacy may not yet have the seal.)
VIPPS Seal of Approval
- DO buy your fertility medications from a pharmacy that specializes in fertility medication — for low prices, seasoned counseling and quick fulfillment.
- DO refer to the AIA list of pharmacies that specialize in fertility or call the AIA helpline for a referral at 1-888-917-3777.
- DO look for a pharmacy that accepts your prescription insurance program.
- DON’T get drawn into cheaper substitutes by purchasing medications from unlicensed sellers, such as foreign suppliers or private individuals. Less expensive could mean less effective.
- DON’T buy your fertility medication from a foreign supplier, where doses may differ and the drugs are likely to get damaged or expire during shipment.
- DON’T buy your fertility medications from an individual selling “left over” or “unused” medication. It’s against the law, and you’re only decreasing your chances of success by using a product of unknown origin.
- DON’T take medication advice from anyone but your doctor.