Human chorionic gonadatropin (hCG) is produced by the placenta during pregnancy. The hormone stimulates changes in a pregnant woman's body, including increases in male and female sex hormones, that facilitate normal embryonic development. Intramuscular injections of hCG can be medically indicated to treat delayed puberty in males, undescended testicles, female infertility and low sperm count. In addition to the medical conditions for which hCG injections are prescribed, there is a growing demand for hCG without a prescription.
The average cost of hCG depends on several factors, including whether it is covered by insurance; obtained through cash purchase from a retail, specialty or mail-order pharmacy; or ordered through online access to foreign distribution channels.
Cost of Prescribed hCG
Injectable hCG is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing under the brand names Chorex, Novarel, Pregnyl and Profasi. Most health plans classify these products as fertility regulators and apply the lowest co-payment applicable to the specific plan (usually $5 to $20) for a one-month supply.
While hCG injections are not universally accepted for weight loss, many insurers, including some Medicare Advantage plans, will cover hCG injections administered within a physician-monitored weight-loss program. The cost to the patient varies from plan to plan, with some covering the full cost and others requiring a single co-payment for each month-long course of injections. Ask your health-care provider to contact your insurer to determine the conditions for which hCG injections are covered and any applicable co-payment.
If there is no insurance covering hCG injections, the cost will vary with dosage and purchase site. For example, CVS Caremark offers 10,000 IU ampules of Novarel and Pregnyl for the discount price of $45.91 and $51.53, respectively. Both Novarel and Pregnyl are available through online pharmacies in 1,000 IU ampules at an average cost of $16.99.
Non-Prescription hCG Uses
The hormone hCG is rarely used by body builders to increase muscle mass because it is expensive and relatively ineffective. Bodybuilders using anabolic steroids, however, often use hCG injections to return testes to pre-steroid size and even to mask the presence of steroids and other banned substances in blood and urine.
Costs With hCG Diet
More commonly, hCG is used off-label, and even without a prescription, for weight loss. Dr. ATW Simeons created a diet program consisting of hCG injections and a 500-calorie-per-day diet regimen.
Dr. Simeons suggests using 1,000 IU vials of powdered hCG reconstituted into eight (8) 125 IU doses. This means that if the product is purchased online, the average cost per injection would be approximately $2.12 for the hCG plus the cost of sterilized water and injection supplies.
Whatever brand is purchased, hCG is derived from the urine of a pregnant woman. For this reason, purity in manufacturing is essential.
The demand for hCG has generated a substantial black market for the product, particularly on the internet. Products purporting to be "generic" forms of brand name hCG formulations may have few active ingredients and/or contain contaminates.
Risks and Side Effects
The potential side effects of hCG injection will depend on individual sensitivities as well as dosage. Common side effects include injection site irritation, fluid retention, acne, fatigue, mood changes and hair loss.
Injecting contaminated hCG products can cause infection, swelling and even skin ulcers and gangrene.