Superdrug Is Releasing A Half-Price Morning After Pill

Campaigner says, 'there is frankly now no excuse for others not to do the same'

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• Access to free emergency contraceptives is increasingly restricted, due to sexual health cuts.

•Superdrug has released the cheapest over-the-counter morning after pill in the UK.

•Some say this is a great step forward in giving women more choice in their sexual health, whilst others think it could be damaging.

Whether the condom broke, there was no condom, your diaphragm slipped (who uses a diaphragm?), you accidentally missed your normal pill, or you're just a cautious Christie, the morning after pill is the useful backup plan you just might need.

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Happily, in the UK, you can get your hands on the emergency contraceptive pill for free, from a whole bunch of places.

If you need to know more about that, here is the NHS page with all the information about various emergency contraceptives.

If you are under 25-years-old, you can get them from a lot of pharmacies and Brook centres.

Whilst if you are over 25 the free options are restricted to certain GPs, sexual health clinics, and accident and emergency centres.

For many reasons, women might feel they need to buy they pill over the counter (or order it online).

They may want to keep it from their GP for privacy reasons, or might struggle to get an appointment or find the time to get to a sexual health clinic, if they have a busy work schedule.

As you may know, both Levonelle 1500 and ellaOne (the main two pills sold in the UK) are less effective the further after unprotected intercourse you take them, so it's understandable that someone might opt to grab one at a pharmacy quickly on the way to work, instead of waiting.

In the UK, the normal price of emergency contraceptive pills ranges from £25-£35.

However, Superdrug has just announced they will be selling Ezinelle (containing levonorgestrel with delays the ovaries from releasing an egg) for just £13.49.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) has commented, according to the Independent,

We are delighted Superdrug has taken this trailblazing step, and look forward to other major retailers following its lead. We know the high cost of emergency contraception can be a major barrier to women accessing it when their regular method fails. Superdrug has illustrated that it's perfectly possible to sell this safe and effective medication to women at a significantly more affordable price than is currently on offer. There is frankly now no excuse for others not to do the same. We will keep campaigning on this issue until all retailers do the right thing and offer women a fairly priced product, as Superdrug is doing today.

In other places in Europe the price is drastically lower, in France it is only €7 (£6) and in Portugal €12.50 (£11).

So why has it historically been so much more expensive here in the UK?

Well, the spokesperson of the Family Education Trust, called Normon Wells has suggested that the decreased price could risk the pill being 'misused or overused'.

Due to the high hormone dosage in these pills, they are not safe to use on a regular basis and should only be used as a back-up to other forms of contraception.

Indeed the manufacturer of one of the pills, Levonelle, told the 2003 Pharmaceutical Journal that, 'Levonelle costs £24 from pharmacies. The price has been set, in part, to ensure that [emergency hormonal contraception] is not used as a regular method of contraception.'

Although this is certainly a concern, wouldn't clear education on the topic and increased awareness be the answer, instead of punishing low-income women through higher pricing?

Another interesting point against the 'cheap' over the counter sale of the morning after pill from Wells is that, 'A cut-price morning-after pill will make it easier than ever for the abusers of vulnerable girls and young women to force their victims to purchase the drug – or even to buy it for them – as a way of trying to conceal their crime.'

Again, this is certainly an issue that must be discussed. And abuse of all forms needs to be tackled more effectively throughout the country. Arguably a £10 price hike won't do much to stop awful things happening to young women though.

With cuts to sexual health services, i.e. increasingly restricted access to free emergency contraceptives, across the UK, we're happy to hear that a cheaper alternative is being made available, though, obviously, monitored usage would also be ideal.

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