Boots has lowered the cost of its morning after pill from £15.99 to £10 in what campaigners described as the end of a ‘grossly sexist surcharge’.
The pharmacy’s managing director Sebastian James confirmed the emergency contraception’s price would be lowered this week.
It follows years of campaigning from activists, healthcare charities and MPs – who described the move as a ‘victory for women’.
Writing in a letter to Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson, Mr James confirmed the chain would now be selling its 1.5mg levonorgestrel pill for £10.
The new price tag makes Boots’ generic emergency contraception the cheapest at any high street pharmacy chain.
But Boots continues to offer branded morning after pills Levonelle One Step and ellaOne at £26.49 and £33.25 respectively.
Boots has lowered the cost of its morning after pill from £15.99 to £10 in what campaigners described as the end of a ‘grossly sexist surcharge’
Writing in a letter to Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson, Mr James said the chain would now be selling its Levonorgestrel pill (pictured) for the lowest price on the high street
Emergency contraception can be taken up to five days after sex to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
Morning after pills are available for free on the NHS at most GP surgeries, sexual health clinics and walk-in centres.
WHAT IS THE MORNING-AFTER PILL?
Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if your contraceptive method has failed.
The most commonly used method is the emergency contraceptive pill, also known as the morning-after pill.
It must be taken three-to-five days after sex, depending on the brand.
The pill works by preventing or delaying the release of an egg.
It can make you feel sick, dizzy or tired.
Most women are able to take the morning-after pill.
It is also permitted to prescribe it to girls aged under 16.
Source: NHS Choices
It is also available for free at some pharmacies — including some Boots stores — where local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have commissioned them.
But campaigners and MPs have consistently argued women in England face difficulties in accessing the pill on the health service and are often forced to pay mark-ups on the emergency medicine.
The move comes after a campaign for more affordable contraception from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) that was launched in 2016.
Clare Murphy, chief executive of BPAS, said: ‘We are delighted that Boots are doing the right thing by women and providing emergency contraception at a significantly more affordable price, and we applaud their decision.
‘The end of the grossly sexist surcharge on emergency contraception, involving a huge mark up on a product only women need, is a victory.’
She said the pill ‘can give women a second-chance at avoiding unplanned pregnancy’.
Ms Murphy continued: ‘Yet the high-cost and clinically unnecessary requirement for a mandatory consultation can act as barriers that prevent women accessing emergency contraception when needed.
‘Now that the price has been reduced, we want to see emergency contraception taken out from behind the pharmacy counter and placed directly on the shelves where it belongs.’
Boots’ decision follows Superdrug and Tesco halving the price of their pills in stores and online in 2017 under pressure from the BPAS campaign.
BPAS slammed Boots at the time for refusing to follow suit, calling the companies decision to keep prices high ‘sexist’.
In a letter to the charity at the time, Boots chief pharmacist Marc Donovan said reducing the price could ‘encourage inappropriate use’ of the contraception.
Boots lowered its price by half for Black Friday last November, allowing women to buy its generic version levonorgestrel pill for £8 on its website.
MPs called on the company to keep the reduced price after its deal and after a price review in January the company opted to sell the pill at £10.
Dame Diana said: ‘As the All Party Parliamentary Group for Sexual and Reproductive Health, which I chair, found in 2020, women in England are facing increasing difficulty accessing contraception through their GPs and through sexual health services.
‘Over the counter contraception is increasingly the only option women have access to.
‘This is why it is such an important step that Boots have decided to scrap the sexist surcharge, which acted as another barrier to women accessing healthcare.
‘It is critical that any obstacles to accessing contraception are addressed and that the sexual and reproductive health of women is protected.’
A Boots spokesperson said: ‘As the UK’s leading healthcare retailer, we have an important role in ensuring women’s health products and services are accessible, whilst continuing to maintain our expert level of care.
‘In line with our commitment to help more women access our Morning After Pill service with ease and convenience, from February 1 we will be reducing the price of this service. Prices for the service, which includes expert consultation and advice will start from £10.
‘Our priority remains offering the highest standard of care to women, and we will continue to provide our expert pharmacy consultation and advice as an integral part of this service to support women in making the right choice for them.
‘The Morning After Pill remains free on the NHS and in areas where a CCG has commissioned Boots to provide a Morning After Pill service on behalf of the NHS in England, the service is free.
‘We welcome further commissioning of this service across more areas of England and stand ready to help.’