Boots has finally reduced the price of the morning-after pill in all of its UK branches three months after pledging to do so.
The decision of the country’s largest pharmacy chain to lower the price comes after outrage from consumers and campaigners first at its refusal to charge less for emergency hormonal contraception then its suggestion that to do so would leave it open to claims of “incentivising inappropriate use.”
Last August Boots trialled a cheaper version of the pill in 38 of its stores and promised to make it available for £15.99 in all 2,500 branches by October, less than the £28.25 it was charging for Levonelle and £26.75 for its own generic version.
In comparison Tesco sold the branded drug for £13.50 and a generic version was available at Superdrug for £13.49.
However, by November Boots had still not introduced the £15.99 price-tag in all its stores, an apologetic spokesperson citing “a slight delay” in the supply chain of their supplier. That objective has now been achieved.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said the decision to sell the pill at the lower price was “good news for women” although it cautioned that the cost of emergency contraception was still higher in the UK than in other European countries.
“We are delighted that Boots has finally followed many other retailers and is now selling emergency contraception for £15.99, almost a year after we first wrote to them asking for a reduction in the inflated prices. This is good news for women,” a BPAS spokesperson said.
“However even at these significantly lower prices, emergency contraception remains more expensive in the UK than many other European countries and is still twice the price of what women in France are charged.
“We believe the mandatory consultation women must undergo, for which there is no clinical justification, remains a key barrier to women accessing this extremely safe medication and is often one of the reasons given for the price remaining comparatively high.
“We will continue our campaign to ensure women’s access to emergency contraception – which gives them a second chance of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy – is as swift and affordable as possible.”
A Boots spokeswoman told the BBC: “It was always our intention to ensure that when we launched this service it was done well, and with sufficient, sustainable supply so that women would be able to access it both now and in the future.”