Women turn to black market to save money on fertility treatment drugs
Mycah Hatfield, KJRH
2:45 PM, Nov 2, 2017
TULSA -- Women looking to conceive are turning to the black market to buy fertility drugs.
One in ten women struggles with getting pregnant and turn to doctors for help.
KJRH spoke to an Oklahoma woman, who asked to remain anonymous, who sells her leftover fertility drugs.
When asked if she thought she was doing something dangerous in any way she said no.
"I know I have good intentions and I know that I want to help someone else and do everything I can," the woman said.
She posted her leftovers to an online marketplace. She listed her Follistim for $375, Menopur for $175 and Ganirelix for $65. Compare that to the price those drugs are sold in the pharmacy and the savings run into the thousands.
"You're maxing out your credit card and financing and everything," the woman said. "It's just you would do anything to have [a baby], but you're just hemorrhaging money."
She turned to fertility treatments after having seven ectopic pregnancies, a pregnancy where her egg attached outside the uterus. She eventually went under the knife to have her fallopian tubes removed.
"I didn't feel like a woman because I couldn't have a child without help," she said.
Desperate for a baby and unwilling to give in to Mother Nature, she started fertility treatments.
Over the years, she has spent more than $40,000 trying to conceive. She even dipped into her savings and retirement.
Fifteen states require fertility treatments to be covered by insurance. Oklahoma is not one of those states.
Eventually, the Oklahoma woman joined an online support group filled with other women struggling with infertility too. That is where she learned that women were selling their unused drugs to other women desperate for a baby.
She started selling online and was able to recoup some of the money she had spent.
"With insurance coverage, we probably paid $7,000 and we will probably get back $2,500 from selling meds," the woman said.
She said it will not cover the cost of her treatments but the revenue from selling her leftovers will offset the cost.
Tulsa Fertility Specialist Dr. Stanley Prough sees between 10 and 20 new patients struggling with fertility every week.
He advises his patients against buying from the black market.
"What you don't know about these drugs is how long they have been sitting in someone's garage or glove box of their car, what kind of temperature regulation they've had," Dr. Prough said. "Where are they from in the first place?"
Many of the drugs have to be refrigerated to work.
The Oklahoma woman said she sends the drugs to her buyers in a cooler overnight. At the end of the day, she wants the best for these women.
"We're all going through the same thing and we all just want to do it," the woman said. "We all want to have a baby and some could not afford it without these pages."
Dr. Prough said one of the potential dangers lies when people use the black market drugs to self-medicate.
"You don't know what they're doing to themselves," Dr. Prough said. "That's how you end up with litters of babies sometimes."
After four full fertility treatment cycles, the Oklahoma woman gave birth to her two beautiful twin girls. She is undergoing another round of fertility treatments to grow her family by one more.
"I don't know what the law I'm breaking is," the woman said. "I know that in their eyes, it's wrong, but I don't see how it is wrong."
We reached out to the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the Drug Enforcement Agency, local police and the Food and Drug Administration. None of the agencies could point to a law saying the patient-to-patient sale of a non-controlled prescription drug was illegal in Oklahoma.
The Food and Drug Administration said they would not comment on a hypothetical situation, but they do have concerns about patients sharing prescription drugs.