Fertility drugs

Updated: Oct/16


SIDE EFFECTS
Known side effects should be discussed with you in advance by your doctor as part of the ‘informed consent’ process. Side effects can vary from woman to woman, as well as from one cycle to another for any particular woman. They are listed on the package insert and documented in the CPS (Canadian Pharmaceutical Survey) which you can view at any pharmacy or library, or at:

If you experience unusual side effects not listed, be sure to tell your doctor, contact the pharmaceutical manufacturer (who is required to notify Health Canada in an ongoing effort to protect patient safety), and report the problem yourself directly to Health Canada.  Your actions will help protect other infertility patients in the future.


RISKS
There has been little long term research, but what has been done seems to show no significant increase in the rate of birth defects. If clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene) is used for more that 12 cycles in a woman’s lifetime, there appears to be a slight increase in the risk of ovarian cancer (which is reduced to normal if the woman does have a child.) However, since women who never have children face a higher risk of ovarian cancer it may be the underlying ovulatory defect that causes the cancer rather than the fertility drugs. 

See also: Information in the news about risks of fertility drugs


COST

Insurance
Be sure to research your extended health plan. Many insurance companies limit the number of cycles, the quantity or cost of drugs covered, or the length of time they can be taken for; therefore, it may be wise to pay the initial costs yourself and reserve the insurance coverage for the more expensive cycles, especially those which require injectible drugs which can cost $3,000-$5,000+. If you do not already have drug insurance, it is usually difficult to obtain it for a condition (i.e. infertility) which has already been diagnosed.

Compassionate Plans
The pharmaceutical manufacturers sometimes have funds that can help with all/part of a cycle. Ask your doctor. Canadian pharmaceutical manufacturers include:
EMD Serono Canada
Ferring Canada
Merck (Schering-Plough, Organon)

Research Trials
It is occasionally possible to get free medication by taking part in a research trial. Ask your doctor.

Fertility drugs at affordable prices

Buying Drugs from Other Patients
Some clinics let patients post a notice, or will take the drugs as a donation to give to others in need. However, you could be decreasing your chances of conceiving since fertility medications must be handled and stored properly to retain their safety & effectiveness.

Buying Drugs Over the Internet
Buying over the Internet (from companies, pharmacies, individuals) exposes you to the risk that they may be: counterfeit, contaminated, tampered with, the incorrect dosage, unable to meet Canadian safety standards, stored improperly, damaged during shipping, or not acceptable for use by your doctor/clinic

Selling Leftover Drugs
Under Canadian law, it is illegal for anyone other than a licensed pharmacy to sell prescription medication, although doctors are allowed to dispense medications under certain conditions defined by the College of Physicians & Surgeons (eg. no pharmacy nearby that stocks drugs which are needed urgently). If you have been reimbursed for your drugs by an insurance company, reselling them and keeping the money could be seen as fraud.

Donating Leftover Drugs
You may want to donate your leftover drugs to someone who needs them through your clinic. Pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers are prohibited from taking back unused drugs because they cannot be certain they have been stored under proper conditions and have not been tampered with. For this reason, clinics, as well as other patients, may be also reluctant to take them even as a donation.


NEWS


As a charity, the Infertility Network cannot get involved in the buying, selling or donating of drugs.