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By Julene Tripp Weaver
A Quick Review of Buyer's Clubs
History of buyer's clubs
In the early days of AIDS drugs for treatments of opportunistic infections
or anti-virals were not readily available in this country. There were many
reasons for the slow response time of the medical and scientific communities.
It has only been in the past two years, with the Protease Inhibitors, that
drug approval time has been speeded up; there has been much political pressure
to change this. However, there were drugs available in other countries that
would treat opportunistic infections and individuals could travel to Europe
and bring back medications for their treatment. Some politically active
people living with AIDS set up "buyer's clubs" to purchase these
drugs and make them available. The idea was access to medications at a lower
cost. For the most part the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) overlooked
these clubs because of the political pressure from groups such as ACT UP.
Also there is a loophole in the law that allows importation of medications
from other countries for those who are terminally ill. This helped the
buyer's clubs be able to continue to exist and serve the HIV/AIDS populations.
The people who started these groups could not afford to wait for the main
stream to approve drugs. They took their health care into their own hands,
and used the informal support of this large group of other PWA's who have
been experimenting with a whole variety of medications and alternative treatments.
Advantages of Buyers Clubs
- You get to have a choice in your treatment at a wholesale price. Their
products are offered at reduced rates to people with chronic illness; some
focus solely on AIDS, others will sell to anyone.
- Buyer's Clubs offer a wide range of choices: vitamins, minerals, glandulars,
protein powders, nutritional supplements, herbals, hormones, and some prescription
drugs not yet available.
- They offer alternative treatments that are not available in this country,
such as SPV-30 the new herbal therapy that Dr. Luc Montagnier did clinical
trials on in France.
- The people who started them are usually PWA's who took their medical
care into their own hands, many are long term survivors or long term non
progressors. They have done a lot of serious study and have lots of good
information. Some have libraries that will help you research a topic.
- If its not in your state you don't have to pay taxes, but you will
have to pay shipping, if you order early enough and don't need quick service
shipping prices may be reasonable.
- Buyers Clubs can open a doorway that can be a ray of hope.
Disadvantages of Buyers Clubs
When you first contact a buyer's club request their product and price list.
Some buyer's clubs require a yearly membership fee, some have a sliding
scale for membership, some will offer discounts dependent on your need.
Several require that you sign a release form for their files. Many buyer's
clubs are 501c3 status, or they may be under the umbrella of an AIDS organization,
so you can claim your membership or donation as a tax exemption. There are
some independent organizations that are not officially buyer's clubs but
have arisen out of the same needs.
- You pay the cost of the products you buy out of your own pocket, there
is no insurance or Medicaid coverage that will pay for these alternatives.
- What they offer is not guaranteed to work, but then again neither are
- The wide range of vitamins, herbals, and non-mainstream options available
can be overwhelming, especially to someone who is feeling desperate or not
sure which treatments to try.
Once you have called some buyer's clubs and received their information packages
you can decide which group suits your needs. To help cut down on shipping
costs use one that carries a wide array of choices. All the buyer's clubs
listed will accept credit card orders over the phone, or you can mail a
check or money order. Many will provide fast delivery options for a extra
fee. I have included toll free numbers, if they have one, their local number
and address, their email address and web site when available. Babes is currently
setting up a web site and has a computer trainer available, so you can set
up an appointment to learn how to use these services and access this information
through cyber space!
Partial list of buyer's clubs:
Direct AIDS Action Information Research, DAAIR, toll free number for
people outside of New York state: 888-951-LIFE. Address: 31 E 30th St,
Ste 2A New York City, their local number is 212-725-6994. Email address:
email@example.com. Web site: http://www.immunet.org/daair. They send out
an information package that takes several weeks to receive. Their package
is a 150 page Membership Outreach Pack (MOP) that is loaded with
information and well worth having. They have a membership fee that is on
a sliding scale of $5 up to $25, their prices are reasonable. They have
financial need discounts. Once a member you'll receive even more information.
The person who started DAAIR is Fred Bingham and he developed a "triple
herbal" combination using SPV-30, Bitter Melon, Curcumin and Glycyrrhizinate
Boston Buyer's Club, toll free number is: 800-435-5586. Address:
29 Stanhope St, Boston, MA 02116 (located at the Boston Living Center),
their local number is 617-266-2223. They have a $5 yearly membership fee.
They were one of the first groups to carry SPV-30, and are connected with
David Stokes. David initiated clinical trials on SPV-30 in the United States.
Unfortunately they do not have the other ingredients for the triple herbal
formula, they explained they do not have room to stock additional products
but they are able to do special orders.
Being Alive, they have only a local number 602-265-2437. Address:
111 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85012-1609. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
They have everything in the triple herbal formula at good prices, tell them
if you are interested in this formula because they have not updated their
list and will write in the prices. It is also noted that they specialize
in products for gastrointestinal problems. They have a membership fee of
$10 per year, and a signed release form is required with the first order.
They ship your first order free. This is a large group that has a library,
publishes a newsletter and is collaborates with the Southwest College of
Naturopathic Medicine to do alternative research. The contact person is
AIDS Treatment Initiatives, ATI, they have only a local number 404-874-4845.
Address: 828 Peachtree St. NW, Ste. 210, Atlanta, GA 30308. Web page:
http://www.mindspring.com/~atiaids/ATIHomePage.html. They have a membership
fee of $25 per year, are 501c3, and some items they sell require a prescription.
They work with an organization called the AIDS Survival Project which has
an extensive library and a treatment resource specialist. They have a good
list with information about what each product contains and its possible
Denver Buyer's Club, PWA Coalition Colorado, they only have a local
number 303-329-9379. Address: 1290 Williams, Denver, CO 80218 or PO Box
300339, Denver, CO 80203. Email address: PWACOLO@aol.com. They have no
membership fee and their prices are good; they do not accept credit cards
so a check must be sent to them with the order. Their hours are Monday
11 - 1, and Friday 4 - 6.
Healing Alternative Foundation, they have only a local number 415-626-4053
for information, once a member you can use their twenty-four hour toll-free
line to order with a credit card: 800-219-2233. Address: 1748 Market St.,
Ste. 205, San Francisco, CA 94102-5806. They have an annual membership
of $1 - $25 sliding scale. They have a large library and have a history
of advocacy for access to drugs. Call Tuesday through Saturday after 12
noon. Their prices are good, but there is not a lot of information about
the products. They do not have all the exact products for the triple herbal
Embrace Life, their number is: 800-448-1170. Address: 2070-C Wharf
Road, Capitola, CA 95010, their local number is 408-464-7444. Email address:
email@example.com. This was started by a woman named Juliette who is
a scientist and a researcher who became infected with HIV. This group works
with medical doctor Jon Kaiser, the San Francisco Bay area doctor who wrote
the book Immune Power. He suggests a certain protocol of supplements
and they have this available in addition to a wide array of choices; their
prices are only slightly lower than full cost and she doesn't call their
organization a buyer's club. She tells me they have been having success
with a double herbal formula of Cat's Claw and Olive Leaf Extract. Juliette
is aware of the triple herbal formula and will have all the right ingredients
This is a short history and list of buyer's clubs. If you already purchase
vitamins it may be worth while to use them for their wholesale prices.
These organizations are there to serve you so don't hesitate to use them.