In her capacity as Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon has written a letter to Boots' Managing Director, Elizabeth Fagan, signed by over 130 Labour MPs highlighting their dismay that Boots have not fulfilled their promise to provide cheaper and more affordable emergency contraception to women.
Sharon alongside other Labour MPs pressed Boots for action on affordable contraception and have expressed their disappointment at the pharmacy’s failure to deliver on their pledge to women and their reproductive rights.
In response to lobbying from MPs, healthcare charities, and members of the public, Boots said in July that they were looking to source less expensive emergency contraception medicines for their customers.
In August, the company stated they had started to offer a £15.99 product in 38 stores and would be “able to offer this across all stores in October 2017.”
However, Boots have now confirmed that they are only providing the cheaper version in an additional 31 stores, bringing the total to just 69 of their nearly 2,500 shops. A number of the stores Boots have listed as selling the £15.99 product do not appear to have this in stock. In the letter, MPs state they are “dismayed” by Boots’ failure to “live up to their clear commitment to women.”
Boots have cited “supply chain delays” as the reason for their inability to roll out a more affordable product. Yet MPs have stated that it is “difficult to understand” how Boots – “our leading high street pharmacy, who states they have a commitment to women’s health and wellbeing” – have been unable to do so when the vast majority of their high street competitors have been offering less expensive options for a number of months.
In their letter to Managing Director Elizabeth Fagan, MPs say they are “deeply concerned that Boots are unable or unwilling to deliver” on their pledge, and call on the pharmacy chain to consider reducing the price of their own-brand emergency contraception, currently priced at around £26, if they are indeed experiencing difficulties sourcing another version.
The letter also highlights that pharmacy access to EC is of an even greater importance in December and January, as GP and family planning clinic closures mean that many women struggle to access contraceptive services and their usual family planning method over the festive period. Boots have made no commitment on a timescale for the much-delayed full roll out of the more affordable emergency contraception.
“It is dismaying that Boots have not fulfilled their promise from earlier this year to provide cheaper, more affordable emergency contraception to women by October.
“Whilst Boots say they have started the process of rolling out this product in the stores, the progress they have made so far can only be described as a drop in the ocean with a long way to go before it is accessible in each of their 2,500 stores across the country.
“As we enter the festive period – where women struggle to access contraceptive services and their usual family planning methods – it is crucial that Boots get their act together and roll out this cheaper emergency contraception as promised earlier in the year.”
You can read the letter here.