BPAS and WEP successful in demanding Boots scrap sexist surcharge on emergency contraception
Published 22 July 2017
Boots apologises for causing offence by saying it kept the price of Levonnelle emergency contraceptive high to avoid “inappropriate use”, and says it will look for cheaper alternatives
Women’s Equality Party and BPAS, who kicked off the #justsaynon campaign, welcome the decision and urge Boots to quickly cut the price of Levonelle
Boots charges £28.25 for Levonelle and £26.75 for its own generic version. Tesco now charges £13.50 for Levonelle, Superdrug £13.49 for a generic version. The cost in European countries in much lower: £5 in France
Boots backed down on Friday after a campaign by the Women’s Equality Party and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) lit public outrage over the chemist’s decision to set artificially high prices on emergency contraceptive pills. With consumers taking to social media to declare they would boycott Boots until it changed its pricing, the company said it would look for a cheaper alternative.
Superdrug and Tesco reduced the cost of the Levonelle “morning after” contraceptive 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. Boots initially refused to follow the example of these two major retailers, on the grounds that it did not want to be accused of “incentivising inappropriate use” by those who oppose women's access to this safe and essential means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy.
On Friday Boots said it was “truly sorry” for this response and would seek cheaper alternatives.
“We are delighted that our campaign has succeeded and we now urge Boots to put those lower prices into place immediately. There is no need to seek cheaper alternatives: Levonelle costs a fraction of its current £30 retail price to produce and efficacy should be the main driver here,” 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 was irresponsible and exploitative for Boots to charge over the odds for them.”
Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said:
“We really welcome this apology from Boots and are delighted
that they are committed to lowering the cost of emergency contraception. We look forward to learning what the next steps will be and the timeframe for these changes. As other retailers have been able to introduce a price reduction across their stores we hope
Boots will act promptly to ensure women have affordable access to this back-up method of contraception, which gives women a crucial second chance of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.”
Walker added: “WE said from day one that protecting women’s reproductive health was a core aim of this party. WE also said we would work collaboratively to protect women’s rights. WE are grateful to everyone who came on board, including the Labour women who added their voices to this cross-party campaign.”
“Too often, politicians and businesses feel they have a right to consult on women’s reproductive rights. This is always, in the view of the Women’s Equality Party, entirely indefensible. Women’s rights are human rights and not up for negotiation.”