High EC price to discourage ‘inappropriate use’

Boots shopfront

British women are condemning Boots UK’s decision not to follow competitors in lowering the price of emergency contraception

The Superdrug and Tesco chains recently reduced the price of progestogen-based emergency contraception to £13.50 (AUD$22.20) after the British Pregnancy Advisory Service wrote to them, asking them to review their pricing.

BPAS says that progestogen-based emergency contraception can cost up to five times more in the UK than elsewhere in Europe.

But Boots has refused to follow suit, reportedly claiming the price is set high to discourage “inappropriate use”.

Boots chief pharmacist said in a letter to BPAS that, “In our experience the subject of emergency hormonal contraception polarises public opinion and we receive frequent contact from individuals who voice their disapproval of the fact that the company chooses to provide this service.

“We would not want to be accused of incentivising inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product.”

BPAS has now joined with the Women’s Equality Party to call on Boots to follow Superdrug and Tesco’s example.

“Women should be able to access emergency contraception without being ripped off,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party.

“We know that emergency contraception can be difficult to access for free on the NHS, with appointments at GP surgeries or family planning clinics hard to obtain.

“Many women will need to buy these pills over the counter, and it is irresponsible and exploitative for retailers to charge over the odds for them. 

“This lack of consistency in the provision of women’s contraception threatens to undermine our reproductive rights and Boots’ approach to this concern is indicative of a society that prioritises profit over women’s health and wellbeing.”

Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service called the high price of EC at Boots a “hugely sexist surcharge”.

Women and men have taken to social media to protest Boots’ stance.

Several consumers targeted Boots’ Facebook page, commenting on a recent promotional post for fragrance.

“Stop price gouging on the morning after pill—and quit with the right wing moralising while you’re at it,” wrote Mark Stevens.

“Please don’t try to use moral judgements to hide the fact that you’re ripping off and making it harder for women who want to take responsibility for their own contraception,” wrote Lorna Greenwood.

Concern was also expressed about the attitude of some pharmacists to EC.

According to the Guardian, around 4% of British women of reproductive age use emergency contraception in any given year.

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