The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) has started a campaign to reclassify progestogen-based emergency contraception to General Sales List as it can be sold without consultation at a more affordable price.
The health charity told Pharmacy Business that they are looking at the most effective way to achieve the aim and said LloydsPharmacy still charges £26 for Levonelle.
The BPAS’ comments came following their statement on Tuesday which claimed pharmacies are over-charging women for the morning after pills. BPAS also showed an example of Dr Fox online pharmacy, which recently reduced the price of the morning after pill to £3.
However, Lloyds and the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) stressed the need for a consultation by the pharmacist as part of the emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) services.
The pharmacy chain said it is offering emergency contraception for prices starting at £15.99 and its EHC service is different from Dr Fox’s.
“Dr Fox service requires the patient to choose their treatment method by assessing themselves and it is not offering a trained clinician’s support,” Lloyds told Pharmacy Business.
“The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare guidelines are complicated and therefore for patients to make these types of decisions themselves can be extremely difficult.”
LloydsPharmacy also refuted BPAS’s claim of not supplying generic alternatives and said that a generic alternative of Levonelle was already available in Lloyds’ stores and it’s Online Doctor Service would offer the service within 2-3 weeks.
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) said “it’s important to compare like with like” and asked to recognise the greater level of support and safeguarding a face-to-face consultation with pharmacists provides.
“Many pharmacies provide emergency hormonal contraception as an NHS service free at the point of need. Whether women come to the pharmacy to purchase emergency contraception or get it free on the NHS, they will get the benefit of a full consultation with a healthcare professional that covers side effects, appropriate dosage and guidance about regular methods of contraception,” and NPA spokesperson told Pharmacy Business.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society President Sandra Gidley said the organisation is supportive of initiatives that improve emergency contraception and sexual health advice for women.
The society called for all community pharmacies in England to supply emergency contraception for women.
“NHS emergency contraception services have been available free through pharmacies in Scotland and Wales for some time and we would like to see that replicated across the whole of the country so women get better access, regardless of their ability to pay,” Gidley said.