Last Updated on December 22, 2020
Fertility drugs are recommended for treating infertility issues and can range widely in how much they cost and what they are used for. The issue with the medications’ price tag is that not only are most fertility drugs expensive, many are not even covered by insurance. This can result in immense out-of-pocket costs, bringing infertility treatment to thousands of dollars for patients.
The type of drug being administered will also affect its price. For instance, oral medications used in certain procedures such as IUI or with timed intercourse typically fall in the lower range of costs as compared to their injectable counterparts used for more invasive procedures such as IVF.
IUI medication cost
For simpler, less invasive procedures such as IUI, treatment protocol can start off with at-home insemination without then assistance of a doctor. For those who don’t benefit from at-home insemination, there are options to get treatment in a clinical setting with expert supervision. These include ICI and IUI, both of which may require the administration of oral fertility drugs. Letrozole or Clomid is most often used and costs $100-$450 per cycle.
|Cost||$50/30 tablets||$450/30 tablets||$100/30 tablets||$742/30 tablets|
Injectable fertility drugs cost
Candidates who do not benefit from IUI are then recommended to move on to more advanced procedures like IVF which can involve the use of injectable medication and oral fertility durgs such as Clomid.
IVF candidates will need various classes of IVF medications to be administered during different phases of the process. Since the process involves retrieving the woman’s egg, fertilization, and implantation, different fertility drugs will be used depending on individual patient biology.
Injectable hormone medications, on the other hand, fall into the higher-end spectrum of average fertility drug costs with expenses ranging between $2,000-$6000 for IVF, egg and embryo freezing cycles. And the more cycles a woman needs, the higher the cost of fertility drugs.
The different classes of injectable drugs used involve the following:
|Medicine type||Brand name/s||Function|
|Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)||Gonal F, Follistim||Helps mature multiple eggs instead of a single egg|
|Menotropin or human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG)||Menopur||Used to stimulate egg production in the follicles to prompt ovulation|
|GnRH-antagonist||Ganirelix, Cetrotide||To prevent ovulation by blocking certain hormones in the pituitary gland|
|Leuprolide (GnRH) agonist||Lupron||Tells the pituitary gland to stop producing LH and stimulates ovaries to release estrogen|
|Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) “trigger”||Ovidrel, Novarel, Pregnyl|
|Prompts the body to complete egg maturation|
|Azithromycin||Zithromax, Z-Pak||An antibiotic used to prevent intracervical or intrauterine infections|
Cost of suppression phase medications
Suppression phase is the first step in IVF to block ovulation. This helps multiple eggs to develop simultaneously for retrieval. For achieve this, GnRH agonists and antagonists are used.
|Cetrotide||GnRH antagonist||One 0.25mg vial||1-2||$279|
|Ganirelix||GnRH antagonist||One 250mcg/0.5 ml syringe||1-2||$258|
|Leuprolide||GnRH agonist||One 2.8ml vial of 1mg||Multiple||$2,338|
Cost of Stimulation phase drugs
Alongside suppressing ovulation, IVF also involves that maturation of multiple eggs for retrieval. For this to happen, doctors recommend FSH and hMGs to cause a greater number of follicles to mature. Drugs used for the stimulation phase are by far some of the costliest.
|Gonal-F||FSH||One 450 iU vial||Multiple||$1,337|
|Gonal-F||FSH||One 1050 iU vail||Multiple||$3,349|
|Gonal-F RFF||FSH||One 300 iU pen||Multiple||$1,036|
|Gonal-F RFF||FSH||One 450 iU pen||Multiple||$1,331|
|Gonal F RFF||FSH||One 900 iU pen||Multiple||$2,577|
|Follistim AQ||FSH||One 300 iU cartridge||Multiple||$884|
|Follistim AQ||FSH||One 600 iU cartridge||Multiple||$1,830|
|Follistim AQ||FSH||One 900 iU cartridge||Multiple||$2,824|
|Menopur||hMG||One 75 iU vial||Single||$237|
Cost of triggering phase medication
Triggering the egg release is the final step for egg collection. This step is facilitated by using hCGs that trigger the eggs to mature and the ovaries to release mature eggs for retrieval.
|Novarel||hCG||One 10ml vial of 5,000 units||Single||$172|
|Novarel||hCG||One 10ml vial of 10,000 units||Single||$306|
|Pregnyl||hCg||One 10 ml vial of 10,000 units||Single||$134|
|Ovidrel||hCG||One 250 mcg syringe||Single||$203|
Cost of implantation phase drugs
Once retrieved, eggs are then fertilized with sperm in a lab setting. The final step of the IVF process is to implant the fertilized embryo in the uterus. For this step, fertility experts may use progesterone supplementation to prepare the uterine lining to allow the embryo to implant successfully.
|Crinone||Progesterone (vaginal insertion)||One 4% applicator||Single||$29|
|Crinone||Progesterone (vaginal insertion)||One 8% applicator||Single||$47|
|Endometrin||Progesterone (vaginal insertion)||One 100mg insert||Single||$14|
|Progesterone||Progesterone (capsules)||One 100mg capsule||Single||$2|
|Progesterone||Progesterone (capsules)||One 200mg capsule||Single||$3|
|Progesterone||Progesterone (capsules)||One 10ml vial of 50m/ml||Multiple||$48|
|Prometrium||Progesterone (capsules)||0ne 100mg capsule||Single||$13|
|Prometrium||Progesterone (capsules)||One 200mg capsule||Single||$20|
Since every patient comes with a personalized response to medication, it’s quite possible that their medication protocol may change as they move ahead with their cycle.
Fertility Drug Costs and Insurance
Patients with fertility coverage may or may not be covered for fertility medication. This will vary based on the plan with some policies covering only specific treatment procedures and others covering medication and not the procedure itself.
Navigating insurance can be tricky, so it’s recommended to get in touch with the company’s financial advisors to get an exact picture of what is covered and what isn’t.
People who live in any of the 17 states with an infertility mandate may or may not get relief with regards to fertility drug costs. If state mandate does offer assistance with fertility medication, some of the financial burden can be relieved. Otherwise, the cost of drugs may need to be out-of-pocket while some of the procedures may be covered.
Some insurance plans have limitations on the number of rounds of treatment or a dollar cap on treatment. This sum is revised yearly so if your plan covers medication then schedule your treatment at the beginning of the calendar year to get the most out of it.
How to Save On Fertility Drugs
It is not a bad idea to do some comparison shopping before you actually purchase your drugs. Looking online can give you some idea of how different pharmacies price their products or calling and speaking with a representative can be helpful as well.
However, be careful when purchasing drugs online and only look at reliable and authentic suppliers.
US-based, legitimate online pharmacies will ask for a prescription from your doctor and will have a licensed pharmacist to deal with your case.
On the other hand, specialized pharmacies such as those specializing in fertility medication instead of your local drug store will usually offer the best pricing. Most specialty pharmacies offer excellent service and support. They may even be able to help you with other resources such as videos, apps, fertility-cycle planning calendars and helplines throughout your treatment.
Purchase medications as you go
The overwhelming price tags associated with fertility medication can really bump up the cost of your fertility treatment. That is why it is recommended to buy as you proceed with your treatment. Just be careful to keep an eye on your inventory and prepared if your dosage should change.
Look into discount programs
There are a number of discount options offered by pharmacies and manufacturers to reduce fertility drug costs. Some patient demographics such as uninsured individuals, low-income patients, veterans, and cancer patients may be eligible for special programs.
Some well-known programs include, Compassionate Care, Heart for Heroes, and LIVESTRONG fertility program. Some options give candidates need-based assistance for self-pay patients with various discounts for up to 75% for fertility patients. Others cater to oncology patients or veterans with service-related injury.
The ReUnite umbrella has a number of programs spanning from ReUnite Assist and ReUnite Assist for Veterans to ReUnite Oncofertility to cater to specific demographics.
Consider savings coupons
Manufacturers and pharmacies also put out savings coupons and special deals from time to time. Another option is to use mail-in rebates or take advantage of price-matching deals to save on fertility drugs.
Talk to your fertility expert
Get in touch with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist who may be able to assist you with navigating your insurance or finding affordable, alternatives.
Some doctors may have samples on hand that can be used a s part of your treatment protocol. Your fertility expert will also be able to advise if brand substitution is okay to consider.
As you can see from the above, there can be a significant difference between generic and branded versions of the same medication and your fertility expert is the best person to give you professional insight into that.
That said, while brand substitution does give more leeway to tap into current medication promotions, it may not always be suitable to your individual case.
Medication is usually the most overlooked but often the highest cost during treatment. To budget it wisely, don’t hesitate to talk to all parties involved including your medical team and insurance provider. It can’t be free, but with the right guidance, you may be able to bring down your medication-related costs sufficiently.