We believe that emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) should be available, affordable, and accessible to everyone who needs it.
We believe EHC should be available in as many places as possible to as many people as possible – not just in GP surgeries and sexual health clinics, not only in select pharmacies in certain areas, and not available for free only to people under the age of 25.
All pharmacies should be able and willing to provide NHS-funded EHC to women when they need it.
We know that EHC is cheap for pharmacies to buy. It’s available online from some providers for less than £5 a tablet – yet big pharmacy chains charge up to £16 for the same generic medication. This is unacceptable. The cost of EHC can be a major barrier to access and the high price tag leads to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.
All pharmacies need to make EHC available without a ludicrous price mark-up – enabling women to get the medication they need, no matter their income.
In the UK, EHC is only available on prescription or to be sold over the counter in a pharmacy. EHC is safe, effective, and suitable for almost everybody. In other countries such as France and the USA, EHC is available to buy off the shelf in places such as supermarkets.
EHC should be reclassified as a medication – enabling it to be sold from as many places as possible, and not just restricted to pharmacies and clinics.
EHC is available for free from GPs and sexual health clinics, but for many women this is not accessible. Appointments can be hard to get, it may mean travelling further, and it can require taking the time out of work, studies, or caring. Free services are increasingly being restricted and reduced amid cuts to public spending.
Although EHC is essential to women’s healthcare, access to it is often overlooked by politicians, drug companies, and pharmacies.
We need to stand up for women’s rights to take control of their own fertility and to minimise their risk of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. That means standing up for the availability, affordability, and accessibility of EHC.
Back in 2017, Boots was still charging nearly £30 for every box of emergency contraception it sold. It told BPAS that they didn’t want to reduce the price in case it encouraged ‘inappropriate use’.
BPAS won the battle in 2017 and the price was reduced to £16 – but that was still too much.
For Black Friday 2021, Boots – the largest pharmacy chain in the UK – had a deal to get 50% off the price of emergency contraception. So alongside journalist Rose Stokes, and Dame Diana Johnson, we started campaigning for Boots to reduce the price of their emergency contraception.
In January 2022, Boots committed to reducing the cost of their emergency contraception from £16 to £10- the cheapest on the high street, and once Boots reduced their cost, ASDA and Superdrug followed suit.
Our campaign won the Sheila McKechnie Foundation Best Consumer Campaign award.