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An online pharmacy is selling the morning after pill for £4.99, a fraction of the £14.99 high street pharmacy price.
Chemist-4-U is now offering an “advanced supply” of the 1.5mg Leveorgestrel, also known as the emergency contraceptive pill, in its online store.
Unlike in high street pharmacies, women who wish to buy the pill online do not have to have a face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist, but are required to fill in an online medical questionnaire which is reviewed by a medic.
The sale of the pill is for “advanced purchase only”, meaning it is designed to be stored until needed, and not to be ordered for emergencies. The tablet’s effectiveness is time-sensitive: the sooner it’s taken, the more likely it is to prevent pregnancy.
The morning after pill prevents about 84 per cent of pregnancies, but only when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Chemist-4-U customers are not allowed to order more than three packs in six months.
Spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) Clare Murphy confirmed the pill was “extremely safe.”
“We commend Chemist-4-U in providing women with an affordable product, and absolutely agree that it makes sense for women to have a tablet at home – just in case – particularly if they are relying on condoms as their primary form of contraception.”
BPAS wrote to high street retailers last year asking them to reduce the price of the morning after pill. Pharmacy giant Boots was accused of sexism by health campaigners and Labour MPs after it initially refused, saying a cheap pill would incentivise use.
But it eventually backed down after staff allegedly received “abuse” online for the decision. It announced earlier this month that 38 stores would offer a new, less expensive generic version of EHC (Levonorgestrel) at £15.99.
Director and pharmacist at Chemist-4-U Shamir Patel told The Sun: “We believe healthcare should be affordable, and the morning after pill is not an expensive product to produce.
“To avoid the online ordering facility being abused, there are essential checks and balances in place.
“It flags up in our system if anyone attempts to buy more than three in a six-month period.
“We then take measures to prevent this repeat purchasing.”
According to a 2003 report in the Pharmaceutical Journal, the morning after pill in the UK is deliberately set at an expensive price to prevent women from taking it too often.
“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,” a spokeswoman for Levonelle told the journal.
The morning after pill is available to buy straight off the shelf without consultation in countries across Europe and North America.
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