Can I Buy a CPAP Mask Without Prescription?
By Pam - Registered Respiratory Therapist
CPAP masks and prescription
CPAP masks, like CPAP machines, require a prescription for purchase. Individual CPAP mask parts do not require a prescription. Which means that if you just want to replace your cushion, headgear, or frame, you will not need a prescription.
If you know what mask you use, Respshop can help you purchase the components individually if they are available, and then you can assemble the parts once you receive them.
Additionally, Respshop can assist you either in retrieving a prescription from your provider or in getting a prescription from a provider. You must have a prescription for a machine, and the physician will also prescribe a mask.
Prescriptions for CPAP masks do not expire, so even if it has been many years since you started with CPAP therapy, your original prescription is just fine. International prescriptions for a CPAP mask are also accepted.
Why do masks require prescriptions?
CPAP masks are medical devices and require FDA approval before a manufacturer can sell them. The FDA considers CPAP masks Class II medical devices with some inherent risks and wants to verify their safety. As a result, purchasing a mask requires a prescription. Purchasing mask parts does not require a prescription.
If you suspect you would benefit from CPAP but do not have a prescription, Respshop offers a home sleep study kit. Once the single-use kit arrives, wear it overnight and upload your data to the cloud.
A physician will review your results and get you a prescription for both a CPAP machine and a CPAP mask if warranted. The sleep study kit is single-use and disposable. There is nothing to return after you use it.
But I just need a new mask …
If you already wear CPAP but need a new mask and are having trouble locating your prescription, you have four great options.
Call your doctor and ask them to email you or fax Respshop a prescription. You will likely be surprised at how accessible this option is even if it has been a long time since you saw the physician for your sleep therapy evaluation.
Ask Respshop to fax the physician who gave you the prescription originally and request a copy of it.
If unusual circumstances prevent the first two options from working, don’t worry - there are several more options to consider.
If you have not had a sleep study, you may want to consider our in-home sleep study, that is fast, safe, and reliable. It is clinically validated and fully disposable. OR,
If you have already had a sleep study and cannot find your prescription, you can schedule an appointment with an online physician here, isleep Physician Group, or speak to your doctor.
Wear the home sleep apnea kit overnight, upload the data to the cloud, and a physician will review your results and send you a prescription. If it has been so long since your original sleep evaluation that no one can find your prescription, this is a safe, easy way to get a new prescription and to verify that your CPAP machine settings are still right for you.
If you have a mask that you like and just want to replace it, you can order parts piecemeal. Keep reading to learn more about this option.
Ordering CPAP mask parts
Individual mask parts do not require a prescription. Frame, headgear, cushions, and all the various elbow or swivel connectors can be purchased separately.
Find the mask you use on the Respshop website.
Look for the tab that says "Parts."
Add the frame, headgear, cushion, and any pertinent adaptors to your shopping cart.
Assemble the mask from the parts just as you would after you took it apart for cleaning.
The cost of purchasing the parts separately will often come close to being the same as the fully assembled, new in the bag mask.
"I saw one on Craigslist …"
Purchasing medical equipment, including CPAP masks, from Craigslist, eBay, or other reselling marketplaces is inherently risky. Even if the product is listed as brand new in the package, there are risks involved.
Even if a mask is sold as new in the package, keep in mind that CPAP masks have a shelf life and are stamped with expiration dates. Masks that have sat on a shelf too long likely have deteriorated in obvious or not so obvious ways.
Masks that have not been warehoused under the right temperature and humidity may also have premature deterioration. The silicone degenerates, and plastic parts lose their integrity. Although the mask may look intact to the blind eye, it may not seal well. It simply may not work right, and your sleep will suffer.
A used mask, of course, ships with an unknown history and sanitary concerns. Silicone and plastic parts develop micro-cracks over time that can harbor dirt, oil, and germs even with a good cleaning regimen.
A used mask may be broken in other ways that compromise its safety, as well. Valves may get sticky and fail to open when you are breathing out or in.
Reselling websites sometimes sell products that are not FDA approved for sale in the US. This means the product’s design has not yet been verified as safe by the FDA. CPAP masks have ports and valves that must work properly for you to exhale.
Although these products may even be made by companies that sell sleep apnea equipment in the US (ResMed, Philips, Fisher & Paykel), those companies cannot legally offer you any product support for masks that they are not yet authorized to sell in the US.
In a similar vein, when purchasing a mask on eBay or Craigslist, you do not get any customer support. When you purchase from a business dedicated to equipment for sleep apnea and CPAP, you get access to significant expert support.
Respshop, for example, offers a knowledge base as well as email, online chat, and phone support when you are shopping as well as after you purchase.
Your health and safety are at stake. Respshop is here to help you navigate all the stages of CPAP mask acquisition: prescription, selection, and mask use.