Boots 'truly sorry' for handling of morning-after pill pricing row

Boots has said it is "truly sorry" for the way it responded to a campaign calling for it to cut the price of a morning-after pill it sells for almost £15 more than rivals.

The high street chemist faced criticism after it warned dropping the cost of the emergency contraception could incentivise its use.

Boots confirmed it will look for cheaper alternatives having charged £28.25 for Levonelle emergency contraceptive and £26.75 for its own version.

By contrast Tesco charges £13.50 for Levonelle and Superdrug £13.49 for a generic product.

Boots had been condemned by Labour MPs for its "unacceptable" moral position.

Health campaigners said the extra cost amounted to a "sexist surcharge" with the pill costing up to five times more in the UK than other parts of Europe.

Boots defended its price tag, saying it was based on the cost of the progestogen-based medicine and the consultation its pharmacists carry out with women.

But the firm said it is "committed" to finding less expensive versions of the pill.

Boots apologised for a 'poor choice of words' on the issue. Credit: PA

A Boots spokesman said: "Pharmacy and care for customers are at the heart of everything we do and as such we are truly sorry that our poor choice of words in describing our position on emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) has caused offence and misunderstanding, and we sincerely apologise."

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which launched the campaign calling on Boots to reduce the price tag, said it was "delighted" at the firm's apology and pledge to drop the cost.

"We look forward to learning what the next steps will be and the time-frame for these changes," BPAS director of external affairs Clare Murphy said.

Pressure on Boots built after a letter, organised by Labour's Jess Phillips and backed by the party's women MPs, expressed "deep concern" over the firm's response to the campaign.

Labour MP Jess Phillips had led criticism of Boots' position. Credit: PA

The letter said: "The justification given by Boots for maintaining the high price was that it did not want to face complaints or to incentivise the use of emergency contraceptive.

"This infantilises women, Boots' largest customer base, and suggests Boots takes a moral position against women's choice which is unacceptable."