Emergency contraception can now be bought online in the UK for as little as £4.99.
Superdrug and Tesco recently halved the cost of emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) to £13.49 and £13.50 respectively, and high street pharmacy Boots — following widespread anger at the major mupltiple’s initial refusal to lower the price — claims to be looking at sourcing less expensive EHC.
But Skelmersdale-based online pharmacy Chemist 4 U has been selling Levonogestrel for under £5 since February 2017, and Pharmacy2U offers the same drug for £6.50.
“We’ve been working with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) since February, when they first contacted us asking what the pill could, and should, be sold for — we then lowered our price to £4.99,” says Shamir Patel, managing director of Chemist 4 U.
Patel emphasises that, in accordance with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines, Chemist 4 U sells emergency contraception for advance supply only.
”We would not supply it to someone who wanted it for immediate use — we would advise them to walk into a pharmacy,” he says.
Patel draws a parallel in the price differential between advance supply and immediate supply of EHC, with a customer paying a convenience premium for a bottle of fizzy drink at a motorway service station compared with buying it at a supermarket.
Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at BPAS, says: “BPAS has always encouraged women to have the morning-after pill in their bathroom cabinet, so it’s great that Chemist 4 U are doing this.
“Realistically, though, many women don’t buy it in advance, as you never think you will need it. So it’s really important that the high street offers a good price too. We’ve seen a drop in price the last couple of weeks — major supermarkets are now selling it at around £13.50, which is still a bit steep but a major improvement. We agree with the YouGov poll conducted last year, which found people thought that a price of £8 would be about right — that’s doable, and a reasonable price.”