WE joins forces with BPAS to call on Boots to cut high price of emergency contraceptive pills
July 20, 2017
Progestogen-based emergency contraception can cost up to five times more in the UK than elsewhere in Europe.
Superdrug and Tesco have already reduced the cost of the contraceptives to £13.50 – half the price charged in Boots stores – after BPAS wrote to ask them to review their pricing and offer women a more affordable product.
But Boots has so far refused to follow the example of these two major retailers, with the chain believing there may be complaints from those who oppose women's access to this safe and essential medicine, which gives women a second chance of avoiding unwanted pregnancy.
“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, said: “It’s brilliant to see Superdrug and Tesco leading the way on this issue, providing women with an affordable product which they can use when their regular method lets them down. Improving women’s access to emergency contraception – including by reducing the price – improves women's physical and mental wellbeing, enabling them to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, which can pose a serious risk to their health.”
BPAS and WEP are surprised that Boots, which has enlisted celebrated feminist names in recent advertising campaigns such as the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, does not feel able to offer women a more affordable product on the basis that a small number of people who think women should face the consequences of an episode of unprotected sex might complain.
“Most people believe women should be able to access emergency contraception from pharmacies at an affordable price. We urge Boots to listen to them, reconsider their stance, and do the right thing by the women who shop in their stores everyday,” said Clare Murphy. “Boots needs to drop this hugely sexist surcharge.”