In a shockingly badly-worded response to criticism over its overpriced ‘morning-after’ pills, Boots UK’s chief pharmacist Marc Donovan said the company did not want to be ‘accused of incentivising inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product ‘.
This led to an immediate backlash. People threatened to boycott Boots for its refusal to drop the price of the pill, and the company was forced to back down. On Friday Boots has said it was “truly sorry” for the way it responded to a campaign calling for it to cut the price of emergency contraception and said it is now looking for cheaper alternatives.
Spokesman Dr Peter Saunders said Boots had “failed to support” Marc Donovan, who had put forward “legitimate” concerns about overuse of the pill.
This climb-down will no doubt also infuriate Alithea Williams, below, from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) a “pro-life” group.
Earlier she told Premier that SPUC supported the retailer’s decision.
This is a serious drug which all advice says should not be used frequently. So the fact that Boots are not giving into pressure to make it more readily available. While they are willing to sell it which is not wonderful, at least they’re showing some sort of responsibility.
But the branded drug costs £13.50 at Tesco and a generic version is £13.49 in Superdrug.
However, Superdrug charges £27 for Levonelle and £35 for an alternative emergency contraceptive pill, EllaOne.
When asked to explain their stance, Boots released a statement saying the price of emergency contraception included “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 climb-down came after a campaign led by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and supported by female Labour MPs, two of whom backed calls for women to boycott the store over its stance.
Premier reported that, having forced Boots to back down, BPAS is now understood to be turning its fire on Lloyds Pharmacy, which has also refused to cut the cost of contraception.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn