A U.K. Pharmacist Is Refusing To Lower Prices For The Contraceptive Pill, And Brits Are Not Having It

Boots has claimed that making the pill cheaper would “incentivize inappropriate use.”

July 21, 2017
A U.K. Pharmacist Is Refusing To Lower Prices For The Contraceptive Pill, And Brits Are Not Having It The morning after pill   Sion Touhig / Getty Images

Pharmaceutical store Boots is a staple on every British high street, selling everything from lipstick to deodorant to over-the-counter medicines — including the morning after pill. While it's a godsend to be able to get your hands on the contraceptive relatively easily in the U.K., it's also ludicrously (and for many people, prohibitively) expensive. The cost is around five times more than what our peers in European countries pay.

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Nobody should be forced to risk an unwanted pregnancy because they can't afford a single pill, so abortion care organization the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) have been campaigning for the price to come down. Other major British retailers of the drug, including Tesco and Superdrug, have complied, but Boots have refused.

Unfortunately, not only have Boots refused to make the emergency contraceptive more affordable, but they've also provided the most sexist possible reason for doing so (according to a report in the Guardian). Rather than admitting that their decision is more likely influenced by profit, Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist of Boots UK, wrote to the BPAS that the company would not lower the price because: "We would not want to be accused of incentivizing inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product.”

He also highlighted the pressure that anti-abortion campaigners have put on the company to take the pill off the market altogether: "In our experience the subject of emergency hormonal contraception polarises public opinion and we receive frequent contact from individuals who voice their disapproval of the fact that the company chooses to provide this service."

In their fear of provoking a backlash from people who wish to exert financial control over female anatomy, Boots have now provoked a backlash on a much bigger scale. British people are calling for a boycott of the chain, not only for its refusal to make the drug affordable, but also for the controlling, judgemental language used to justify the decision. See some of the responses below.

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A U.K. Pharmacist Is Refusing To Lower Prices For The Contraceptive Pill, And Brits Are Not Having It