Boots has finally cut the price of emergency contraception after calls from campaigners, charities and MPs to end the “grossly sexist surcharge”.
The high street pharmacist will now sell the morning after pill for £10, making it the most affordable place to access emergency contraception on the high street.
It comes after the retailer faced huge backlash for offering a Black Friday 50% off deal on the pill in November, only serving to highlight the usual mark-up for this vital medication.
Rose Stokes – the journalist who originally brought attention to the shocking Black Friday deal – has welcomed the news.
“The reduction of the price of this essential medicine will help thousands of people to avoid unplanned pregnancies and is a step in the right direction towards closing the gender health gap,” she said. “Although we still have a long way to go in that respect, the response from Boots to our campaign is a welcome move that will change the lives of many.”
Arguably, £10 is still a steep price tag and emergency contraception remains difficult to access for many women, with the current cost of living crisis stretching incomes already. But, it does mark a step in the right direction.
Boots previously charged £28.25 for Levonelle emergency contraceptive (the leading brand on the market) and £26.75 for its own generic version. Initially, the retailer refused to lower the cost, controversially suggesting it would “encourage inappropriate use”.
In 2018, Boots lowered the price of its pill to £15.99 following pressure from campaigners. The price of Levonelle is currently £26.49 on site, while ellaOne (the most effective emergency contraception) is £33.25.
It barely seems enough, considering some online pharmacies sell emergency contraception for £3.
Emergency contraception is available for free via sexual health clinics and NHS walk-in centres, but some women find appointments difficult to access around work and childcare responsibilities, particularly at weekends when many clinics are closed. It’s why quick, affordable access on the high street is so important.
Following Rose Stokes’ tweet and her subsequent article, a coalition of campaigners, healthcare bodies, and parliamentarians, led by Dame Diana Johnson MP, called on Boots for a permanent price reduction beyond the “Black Friday” deal.
After a pricing review in January, Boots confirmed in a letter to Dame Johnson that it has reduced the price of the morning after pill service in stores and online this week.
Commenting on the change, Clare Murphy, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, 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.”