Boots has been criticised for refusing to cut the cost of the ‘morning after’ emergency contraceptive pills.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) is asking Boots and other pharmacists to cut the price of emergency contraception Levonelle.
But Boots has said making the contraceptive cheaper may mean it is “misused or overused”.
Morning after pills are most effective when taken in the first few hours after unprotected sex and are available without a prescription in most European Union countries.
The availability of the pills follows recommendations from the European Medicines Agency, which says they can be used safely without a doctor prescribing them and means access to the medicine is quicker.
The BPAS said women in Britain can pay as much as five times more for the pill compared to costs in other European countries.
BPAS, which provides abortion care services, urged Boots to stop charging almost £30 for a box of pills, and said doing so was prejudicial.
Image: Women in Britain pay more for Levonelle
A spokeswoman for the BPAS Clare Murphy, said: “Improving women’s access to emergency contraception including by reducing the price improves women’s physical and mental wellbeing, enabling them to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, which can pose a serious risk to their health.
“Boots needs to drop this hugely sexist surcharge.”
Superdrug and Tesco recently halved the cost of the morning after pill to about £13.50.
Boots said women could access the morning after pill free of charge through the NHS and that it was “extremely disappointed by the focus BPAS have taken”.
Boots head pharmacist Marc Donovan said: “This is a professional healthcare service which, we believe, requires a professional healthcare consultation.
“The consultation helps the pharmacist offer important sexual healthcare advice to women and helps us prevent emergency contraception from being misused or overused.”
Some female MPs have also weighed into the controversy by urging the public to boycott Boots.
Labour MP Jess Phillips tweeted: “Do they feel same about condoms or is male sexuality totally fine. Get over it. Women have sex!”
Stella Creasy, Labour and Cooperative MP also tweeted: “This is awful @BootsUK @BootsHelp & also contravene consumer rights act. You should fear the consumer rights act more and the power of all of us to withhold our custom.”