Chloe Sweet | Contributing Writer | Thursday, 20 July 2017

Boots Are Refusing To Lower The Price Of The Morning After Pill - And You Need To Know Why

This Is Why Boots Are Refusing To Lower The Price Of The Morning After Pill

The Debrief: Boots have just released a statement explaining why they have decided not to lower the price of their emergency contraceptives, despite them being more expensive than anywhere else in Europe.

Last month, Superdrug set an example to other pharmaceutical providers out there by slashing the price of emergency hormonal contraception (EHC). After a campaign by The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), Superdrug agreed to sell its own brand of the morning after pill for half of what other branded emergency contraceptives were on the shelves for. Despite this still being more expensive than EHC available in European countries like France, where it’s sold for just £5.40, and in Germany, £12.50 – it was a start. People were feeling positive about how accessing emergency contraceptives would be in the future and optimistic in the idea that other pharmaceuticals would follow suit. 

However, unfortunately, it seems that that is not the case. The Independent today reports that leading pharmaceutical provider, Boots, have refused to cut the cost of emergency contraception. Why not, you ask? 

In a letter to BPAS seen by the Independent, Boots explain their reasons for this decision – and their reasoning has, understandably, caused waves...

They said: ‘In our experience, the subject of EHC [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 incentivizing inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product.’

This is a problematic statement for a number of reasons. To begin with, the idea that somebody using emergency contraception would ‘polarise’ public opinion belies an archaic mentality which harks back to outdated attitudes. This is a microcosm of a bigger problem  -  politicians and businesses, with conservative values, determine women’s futures. It truly is alarming that many believe it is still acceptable to make judgements about the choices women, even women who they don’t even know, take in their lives. The fact is, they have no right or authority to weigh in on it.

Boots’ statement implies that there is some kind of shame in taking emergency contraceptives when there isn’t. As things stand, EHC is barely affordable -  especially for women from lower socio-economic backgrounds. But despite this, Boots refuse to follow in the footsteps of other outlets that have reduced the price, simply because it’s supposedly offensive to some their customers. The logic and reasoning on that don't really add up. 

Next up, their comment about ‘incentivsing inappropriate use’ of emergency contraception. The Debrief would love to know what exactly constitutes ‘inappropriate use’ in Boots' view because usually, women take the morning after pill because they need to, not because it’s a barrel of laughs. Would it be more appropriate not taking it, even under any circumstance? What about, for example, if a young girl became pregnant, and tied into a future that she never wanted, all because she couldn’t afford to buy the morning after pill? 

According to The Independent, Boots’ own brand morning after pill is similar to the price of major named brands – meaning that the company will, despite their statement that takes a stance against accessible and affordable emergency contraceptives, see major profits from EHC sales. 

We asked Boots for a comment on the matter. Chief Pharmacist of the company, Marc Donovan, told The Debrief

‘As the UK’s leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer, we are regularly contacted by groups with varying views on this topic, our priority is the health and wellbeing of our customers and patients.  We were recently contacted by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and sent a full and detailed response outlining our views that this is a professional healthcare service which, we believe, requires a professional healthcare consultation. This consultation helps support customers in their choice by examining an individual’s full medical history and any potential drug interactions. The consultation also helps the pharmacist offer important sexual health care advice to women and helps us prevent emergency contraception from being misused or overused.  The NHS commission a free local EHC service which we offer in the vast majority of our pharmacies to eligible women following consultation.  We also stock three Emergency Hormonal Contraceptive medicines (EHC) which are available following a conversation with a pharmacist. We are extremely disappointed by the focus BPAS have taken in this instance.”  

We also asked Boots if they would reconsider their position on the price of EHC, and how the company define ‘inappropriate use’ of emergency contraceptives. But we have not yet received any response or thoughts from the company or any of its representatives. 

Like this? You might also be interested in:

Superdrug Just Halved The Cost Of The Morning After Pill 

Ask An Adult: How Does The Morning After Pill Work?

Morning After Pill Myths Versus Reality 

Follow Chloe on Instagram @chloemaysweet  

Tags: Feminism, Contraception