Boots UK has lowered the price of one of its emergency contraception pills this week following calls from campaigners, healthcare charities and MPs.

In a letter to Dame Diana Johnson MP, Sebastian James, managing director for Boots UK, said that the pharmacy chain will sell generic emergency contraception for £10 as of this week, and that the pricing for branded products will also be reduced in line with other high street retailers.

The levonorgestrel 1.5mg tablet is now sold at £10, which is £5.99 less than previously.

The price drop comes after a group of Labour MPs, campaigners and health bodies called on Boots UK to reduce the price of its emergency hormonal contraception (EHC).

The multiple reduced the price of an EHC product as part of a Black Friday deal last year. The MPs called on Boots not to ‘double’ the price of the product after the deal was over.

MPs claimed that the discount, and that some other pharmacies sell EHC for as little as £4, demonstrated that Boots UK imposed a ‘sexist surcharge’ on the ‘important’ medication.

In 2016, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) launched a campaign for more affordable and accessible contraception, amid concerns that British women are forced to pay up to five times more than those in Europe for the contraceptive.

Boots UK said initially they were concerned that this could ‘encourage inappropriate use’, but reduced the price of levonorgestrel 1.5mg to £15.99 in 2018.

Source: Boots UK website 3/2/22

Professor Claire Anderson, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) president told The Pharmacist that she was ‘supportive’ of ‘any initiative that improves access to emergency contraception.

She added: ‘Cost is a barrier to accessing medicines, and for that reason, we would like to see all community pharmacies in Great Britain able to supply emergency contraception free through the NHS.

‘NHS Emergency contraception services have been available free through pharmacies in Scotland and Wales for some time and we would like to see that replicated across the whole of the country so women get better access, regardless of their ability to pay.’

Clare Murphy, chief executive of BPAS, said: ‘We are delighted that Boots are doing the right thing by women and providing emergency contraception at a significantly more affordable price, and we applaud their decision.

‘The end of the grossly sexist surcharge on emergency contraception, involving a huge mark up on a product only women need, is a victory.’

Ms Johnson said: ‘As the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Sexual and Reproductive Health (APPG FSRH), which I Chair, found in 2020, women in England are facing increasing difficulty accessing contraception through their GPs and through sexual health services. Over the counter contraception is increasingly the only option women have access to.

‘This is why it is such an important step that Boots have decided to scrap the sexist surcharge, which acted as another barrier to women accessing healthcare. It is critical that any obstacles to accessing contraception are addressed and that the sexual and reproductive health of women is protected.’