A group of 130 MPs have written to Boots condemning the fact the pharmacy still hasn’t made good on its promise to reduce the cost of emergency contraception. The signatories said they were “deeply concerned” that only 69 of the pharmacy’s 2,500 stores stock a cheap version of the morning-after pill.
After a high-profile campaign by the charity BPAS, who highlighted the fact the morning-after pill in Britain sometimes costs five times as much as it does in mainland Europe, pharmacy outlets including Superdrug and Tesco agreed to drop their prices.
Boots got in hot water for initially refusing, claiming that if it lowered prices to match Superdrug’s £13.49 it would be “incentivising inappropriate use” – as if the only thing standing between women and an unprotected sex rampage is the fact we might have to shell out the morning after. Right.
Boots has apologised for missing its October deadline, claiming in a statement that it had been struggling to establish a sustainable supply chain for the cheaper generic pill it plans on stocking.
But people clearly aren’t happy about what they perceive to be foot-dragging on the company’s part.
The morning-after pill is available free of charge from GPs and NHS clinics, but visiting a chemist is often the only choice given GP opening hours, the difficulty in getting a same-day appointment and drastic cuts to sexual health services in recent years. The medication is more effective the earlier it is taken.
The delay doesn’t make us feel particularly friendly towards Boots, especially when we remember how the company also ignored the tampon tax controversy. Unlike other major retailers, it has not chosen to shoulder the unfair luxury tax attached to sanitary products on behalf of customers.
Funny: we never thought pharmacies would be such important battlegrounds for feminism.