Last week, the pharmacy chain Boots issued an explanation as to why they refuse to lower the price of their morning after pill, or emergency contraception pill (ECP). Despite pressure from MP’s, activist groups and other retailers lowering the price of their contraception pills, Boots remains one of the most expensive retailers in the country for ECP. In the same week, Boots were forced to issue an apology for the justifications they gave as to why they would not lower the price of the pill. But one week on, what’s changed?
As Coldplay once pleaded, I’ll take you back to the start. After pressure from the British Pregnancy Advice Service to reduce the price of emergency contraception, many retailers and stockists took heed as Superdrug and Tesco (only to name a couple) reduced the price of the emergency contraception.
However, Boots refused to lower the price of their emergency pill, in an open letter to the BPAS stating that
“Emergency health contraception is readily available from a number of sources.”
True, that may be but here’s the real stinger:
“In our experience, the subject of EHC 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. We would not want to be accused of incentivising inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product.”
So, Boots are not lowering the price to keep a bunch of misogynistic moaning twats happy. Furthermore, the term ‘inappropriate use’ is amiss, as anyone who has taken the ECP will tell you, it becomes ineffective if used too many times. That’s why you’re met with interrogation when you try and acquire one, to ensure you’re not overusing them. This means that any ‘inappropriate use’ would be hard to come by, surely?
After public backlash, as well as backlash from the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party, Boots issued this apology…
“Pharmacy and care for customers are at the heart of everything we do, and as such we are truly sorry that our poor choice of words in describing our position on emergency hormonal contraception has caused offence and misunderstanding, and we sincerely apologise.
We are committed to looking at the sourcing of less expensive EHC medicines, for example generics, to enable us to continue to make a privately-funded EHC service even more accessible in the future.”
There was no misunderstanding. What shone through is how female sexual health is considered a consumer good, something to be bought and sold, rather than a necessity or right. The situation has taught that the shame and stigma around women’s sexual health is still very much alive. No woman should be shamed for needing emergency contraception. Nor should anybody be refused the right to emergency contraception, some women just can’t afford the £27 asking price. This whole row isn’t just offensive, it’s poor sales tactics.
Boots’ apology was published on Friday and since then, there has been very little said or done.
It was reported that a spokesperson for Boots told BuzzfeedNews today that “no further updates are currently planned, following the apology.”
This is appalling when you consider the fact that many major retailers have reduced the price of the ECP and some pharmacies/health clinics even give them away for free. It is clear that low-priced pills are available.
Boots has chosen to ignore this fact, as their website still says that the ECP starts at £26.75. I cannot think of a reasonable explanation why not to lower the price. Greed is not a reasonable explanation.