Just weeks ago, women in the UK were praising Superdrug for launching a morning after pill for almost half the price we’d usually expect to pay in a regular pharmacy.
Usually costing around £25-£30, it doesn’t come cheap, the price adding to the already existing stress of a potential pregnancy scare following unprotected sex.
To make matters harder, women are also often required to have a ‘consultation’ with a pharmacist and answer a series of questions in order to get a hold of it.
So Superdrug’s new price of £13.49 came as a breath of fresh air for many – though other pharmacies aren’t following suit.
Boots is not only refusing to lower the cost of the drug at its stores, but has said it is doing so to prevent “inappropriate use”.
As if once the pill becomes the low low price of £13.49 (hint: £13.49 still isn’t cheap in the grand scheme of things), taking it willy-nilly will become our favourite pastime along with having raucous sex parties, wearing short skirts and other pearl-clutch-inducing activities.
In a letter to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist of Boots UK, said that “we would not want to be accused of incentivising inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product.”
"Inappropriate use" is a real risk, though. I, for instance, often take the morning after pill to liven up a slow Sunday brunch
— Stephanie Boland (@stephanieboland) July 20, 2017
Despite the fact that in reality, what Boots is calling “incentivising inappropriate use” is simply making the pill accessible to low-income women.
If you need to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, you need to prevent an unwanted pregnancy – and all that keeping it £20 more expensive is doing is shutting out the poorest from doing so.
Shame on you @BootsUK. "Incentivising inappropriate use"? Just like in the 60s when the pill was said to encourage promiscuity? IT'S 2017!♀️
— Cllr Lauren Mitchell (@laurenamber_m) July 21, 2017
Because it’s not like we can’t get hold of it at the moment – we’re just subjected to a patronising consultation at a pharmacists’ first as the attitude that women are too irresponsible and reckless to take care of their own bodies prevails.
An attitude that Boots has chosen to support.
And in response, women are fighting back, as social media users are calling on customers to boycott the store.
— Sophie Walker (@SophieRunning) July 21, 2017
I'll be boycotting Boots. It's a shame, as I like Boots, but I don't want to be incentivising inappropriate use of politics in healthcare.
— Sinéad Williams (@sineadawilliams) July 21, 2017
BPAS has long campaigned for emergency contraception to be made available without the need for a consultation – with the idea that this happening would also result in the pill becoming easier to access and its price being lowered, which the charity has called a “sexist surcharge”:
“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,” Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said in a statement.
“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.
“Most people believe women should be able to access emergency contraception from pharmacies at an affordable price,” she added.
“We urge Boots to listen to them, reconsider their stance, and do the right thing by the women who shop in their stores everyday.
Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist at Boots UK, said:
— Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga) July 21, 2017
“As the UK’s leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer, we are regularly contacted by groups with varying views on this topic, our priority is the health and wellbeing of our customers and patients.
“We were recently contacted by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and sent a full and detailed response outlining our views that this is a professional healthcare service which, we believe, requires a professional healthcare consultation.
“This consultation helps support customers in their choice by examining an individual’s full medical history and any potential drug interactions.
“The consultation also helps the pharmacist offer important sexual healthcare advice to women and helps us prevent emergency contraception from being misused or overused.
“The NHS commission a free local EHC service which we offer in the vast majority of our pharmacies to eligible women following consultation.
“We also stock three Emergency Hormonal Contraceptive medicines (EHC) which are available following a conversation with a pharmacist.
“We are extremely disappointed by the focus BPAS have taken in this instance.”
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