Online pharmacy HALVES the price of a generic morning-after pill to £4.99 for the Christmas party season – but critics denounce the move as ‘irresponsible’
- UK pharmacy Chemist 4 U is selling Ezinelle for less than £5 after a price cut
- Abortion experts say emergency contraception should be easy to access
- But religious doctors fear the low price encourages risky promiscuity
The morning-after pill can now be bought for just £4.99 after an online chemist slashed its price in the run-up to Christmas.
Chemist 4 U is controversially offering the emergency contraceptive levonorgestrel for less than £5.
Women can buy the pill, which prevents pregnancy if taken within three days of unprotected sex, for ‘advance’ use and some experts advise stocking up on the pill.
But critics said making the contraception so readily available is ‘irresponsible’ and gives the green light to potentially damaging promiscuity.
The morning-after pill is free from the NHS if women visit their GP or sexual health clinic, but can also be bought from high-street chemists and online retailers. Ezinelle is a generic version of the branded drug Levonelle, which the NHS gives out
Women can get the morning-after pill free on the NHS from GPs and sexual health clinics, and can also buy it in high street chemists such as Boots and Superdrug.
The Ezinelle tablet which had its price halved by Chemist 4 U, as reported by The Sun, costs nearly three times as much at Superdrug, where it’s £13.49.
Ezinelle is a generic version of the branded emergency contraception given out by the NHS – Levonelle.
The price cut comes after a row last year in which Labour MPs and a leading abortion charity called on pharmacists to make emergency contraception cheaper.
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They argued women should have the power to avoid unplanned pregnancies and companies shouldn’t profit from those finding themselves in desperate situations.
Before buying the £5 contraceptive online, women must fill out a questionnaire asking whether it is an emergency and other questions abut their health.
Chemist 4 U warns buyers they should not buy the drug through their website if they need to take it straight away, and also that it isn’t 100 per cent effective.
HOW DOES THE MORNING-AFTER PILL WORK?
The morning-after pill prevents or delays ovulation after a woman has had sex, meaning an egg is not released or fertilised to make a baby.
In the UK morning-after pills can be bought by anyone over 16, but some pharmacists have started to sell it to younger girls following new NHS guidance two years ago.
It is usually free in GP surgeries and NHS family planning clinics, but many women go to a high-street chemist as they are unable to get an appointment in time.
The NHS offers two pills, which cannot be taken by asthma sufferers.
Levonelle contains a powerful synthetic hormone that blocks egg production or cuts the odds of it implanting in the womb. EllaOne is a chemical that affects the processing of progesterone.
Side effects can include sickness, dizziness, abdominal and back pain, diarrhoea, extreme tiredness and in rare cases, if the pill fails, ectopic pregnancy – which can be fatal for both mother and child.
The Christian Medical Fellowship, a UK organisation of more than 4,000 doctors and 800 medical students, has condemned the pill price cut.
‘This is an irresponsible announcement that gives the green light to promiscuity during the Christmas period,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Having unprotected sex outside of a committed relationship has physical and mental consequences, not just unplanned pregnancies.
‘Stocking up on the morning after pill will do nothing to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, which can be life changing.’
But the abortion clinic charity, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said it is important for women to have access to contraception when they need it.
BPAS said it is ‘obscene’ for other pharmacies to continue charging such high prices if the drug can still be profitable at less than £5.
‘Chemist 4 U has identified that women can still face a price hike of 650 per cent when they buy emergency contraception in a pharmacy,’ said spokesperson Clare Murphy.
‘This is obscene. It is quite simply appalling that anyone would want to profit off women in an emergency in this way.
‘If Chemist 4 U can offer this for £4.99, it’s obviously the case that other retailers could drop their prices significantly.
‘We advise women to keep emergency contraception in their bathroom cupboard just in case, and make the most of this opportunity to obtain an affordable back-up in the event their usual method lets them down.’
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