Can You Buy IV Bags Over the Counter? IV Fluids? Answered

“Where can I buy IV fluids/bags?” You cannot purchase IV bags and fluids over the counter. Sterile saline administered intravenously requires a prescription from a doctor. We have all the details below, plus where to buy IV fluids with a prescription.

Can You Buy IV Bags Over the Counter?

You won’t be able to find IV bags containing sterile saline over the counter. A 0.9% sodium chloride solution is the most common fluid found in IV bags, and it requires a prescription. We found multiple medical supply websites that sell sodium chloride in IV bags, but you’ll need a prescription to purchase them.

Bound Tree Medical, a medical supply distributor, states on its sales page for sodium chloride 0.9% IV bags that it “requires Medical Director or Pharmacist-in-Charge authorization for any purchases of prescription drugs or medical devices be on file, including a copy of the appropriate and current state licensing.”

Emergency Medical Products, an emergency medical equipment supplier, states on its sales page for IV bags: “Per Federal Law, all of the items listed on this webpage are prescription drugs and/or devices. Before your account can receive these items, we must have a completed License Authorization Form (LAF) on file signed by your Medical Director. Orders from individuals will not be accepted.”

Even veterinary supply distributors, which offer the exact same IV bags, won’t sell them without a prescription. Heartland Veterinary Supply and Pharmacy has this disclaimer on its sales page for sodium chloride 0.9% injection bags: “RX required for this item.”

IV bags containing sterile saline require a prescription because they pose various health risks to those using them. A sterile saline solution can sometimes prompt a severe allergic reaction and users face the risk of vein damage or infection if an IV needle is inserted incorrectly or an IV catheter is left in for too long. Ultimately, IV fluids should only be administered in consultation with your doctor.

Note: Any attempt to purchase an IV bag filled with sterile saline without a prescription may put you in violation of federal law.

Where Can I Buy IV Fluids with a Prescription?

If you have a prescription from your doctor, the best place to buy IV bags and fluids is at a local medical supply store. You can also ask your physician for a supplier recommendation. Other options include medical supply websites (like those mentioned above) and independent medical supply stores located near hospitals. You might want to check with your insurer ahead of time to see if it will cover the cost of your prescription IV bags.

In Summary

Can you buy IV fluids over the counter? No. Although you cannot purchase IV bags over the counter, medical supply stores (online and in-store) will sell them to you if you have a prescription.