Female teens and adults in the United States are steadily gaining access to emergency contraceptives to prevent unplanned pregnancies. The report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only highlights the fact that access to emergency contraceptives is important in order to provide women with necessary reproductive health care and is a key factor in lessening teenage pregnancies.
While women in some areas of the United States are steadily gaining access to morning-after pills, however, a pharmaceutical company in the UK expressed that it did not plan to lower its prices for its emergency contraceptives because doing so would encourage inappropriate behavior.
Boots's Inappropriate Comment
The argument began after the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) wrote to pharmaceutical companies and lobbied for them to lower the price of Emergency Hormonal Contraceptions (EHCs) after discovering that UK prices are at least five times higher than in other European countries.
According to reports, EHCs are available in France for $7.15 (£5.50) but is sold in Boots pharmacies at $36.71 (£28.25) for the branded Levonelle and $34.76 (£26.75) for the generic version.
Pharmaceutical companies Tesco and Superdrug agreed to lower their prices, but Boots was adamant about keeping prices high.
"We would not want to be accused of incentivising inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product," Boots chief pharmacist Marc Donovan wrote to the BPAS.
The comment immediately circulated in the media and received backlash for the company's implication that British women's struggle to gain access to emergency contraceptives is due to exercising inappropriate behavior.
Backlash Against Boots
Donovan's comment to the BPAS received the ire of feminists and activists who spoke out against the unfair and inappropriate perception Boots has about women who require EHCs.
"The morning-after pill is legal in the UK. Women should be able to take it without being shamed. So as long as women need access to a safe and legal drug that prevents unwanted pregnancy, we should be able to get it — without being financially penalised or morally judged," activist and writer Sian Norris wrote.
She also pointed out that men raping women and girls is one of the reasons some women want access to EHCs so Boots's assumption is uncalled for.
Boots Apologizes For Offensive Comment
After receiving a huge amount of backlash over its chief pharmacist's comment, Boots released an apology on July 22.
"[We] are truly sorry that our poor choice of words in describing our position on Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) 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," a Boots spokesperson wrote.
Despite the apology, however, Boots says its original letter still stands and that the company will not lower the prices of EHCs available in its stores.