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EHC price wars: Rowlands, Superdrug and Well follow Boots’ lead and lower cost

Three multiples have announced they will be reducing the cost of their generic emergency hormonal contraception (EHC), following Boots’ decision to do so last week.

Boots UK confirmed it had lowered the price of its generic version of levonorgestrel to £10 last week following a pricing review in January in a move designed to help more women access the service “with ease and convenience”.    

Following the news, Rowlands, Superdrug and Well have also decided to drop the cost of their generic EHC, C+D has learned.

In light of Boots’ U-turn, C+D contacted a range of multiples and independent pharmacy businesses to ask what price they sell private EHC for and whether they are considering lowering their costs.


Rowlands, Superdrug and Well drop prices 


A spokesperson for Superdrug told C+D last week (February 4) that the multiple “continuously” reviews its pricing “to ensure we are providing accessible healthcare to all”. 

It is now offering EHC at a lower price point than Boots, at £9.99, the spokesperson confirmed.

Rowlands also made the decision to reduce the price of its generic EHC pill “down from £11.49 to £9.99”, a spokesperson told C+D this week (February 8).

“Rowlands is committed to offering our patients and customers affordable access to the healthcare products they need,” they added. “Accessibility for all women is important and we support the renewed focus within this area.”

Well Pharmacy will be moving the price of its generic EHC pill to £10 "over the coming days”, its superintendent Ifti Khan confirmed to C+D yesterday (February 9)

Meanwhile, Lloydspharmacy also currently sells its generic levonorgestrel for £10, according to its website. 

What about other pharmacies? 


While Weldricks Pharmacy has not followed Boots’ lead in lowering its price of the EHC generic levonorgestrel in the past week, it has been selling it in store for £9.90 and at £8.00 online “for some time”, Weldricks director of operations David Vanns told C+D on Monday (February 7). 

However, the pharmacy chain reduced the price of ellaOne to £21.90 – both instore and online – two weeks ago “to keep [its] retail price competitive against Chemist4U”, which has been selling Ezinelle (levonorgestrel) online for just £3.39. 

“We have always tried to price EHC as competitively as we can”, Mr Vanns continued, to make it “available at an affordable price” and “in ways that are convenient”. 

He added: “Clearly, all women and girls at risk of an unintended pregnancy have a right to access emergency contraception.”

EHC demand “rose hugely” during the pandemic 


Demand for generic EHC has soared since March 2020, with Mr Khan confirming to C+D that Well has seen “a 50% increase in demand” in the past two years. 

Meanwhile, Sheffield-based Wicker Pharmacy’s managing director Ellie Bennett told C+D last week (February 4) that demand for EHC “rose hugely” during the pandemic.  

This is a result of an NHS service offering free emergency contraception opening up to all age groups during the pandemic and sexual health services being “redirected to us during lockdowns”, she added. 

Wicker sells “very few” emergency contraceptive pills, chairman and superintendent pharmacist Martin Bennet added, “as we can supply [them] to Sheffield residents free of charge via patient group direction”.

At Weldricks Pharmacy, customers reached for the generic levonorgestrel most frequently in store and online, Mr Vanns told C+D. Sales on the generic at Weldricks were 28% higher in store and 50% higher online in January 2022, when compared to January 2020, he said.

Although ellaOne (ulipristal acetate) only accounted for 3% of Weldricks’ total EHC sales, online sales increased by 110% in the same period. 

Superdrug's Online Doctor also saw an increase in demand for EHC at “times during the pandemic”, a spokesperson from the multiple said, with demand increasing by 33.6% on the previous year. 

Universally available service “best way to ensure access” 


Commenting on the reduction in price of EHC among both multiples and independents, National Pharmacy Association policy manager Helga Mangion told C+D that “pricing among independent pharmacies varies”. 

“A universally available, free-at-the-point-of-delivery NHS service in pharmacies is the best way to ensure access to everyone needing EHC and address health inequalities,” she added.

In 2018, Boots UK reduced the price of its generic brand of levonorgestrel from £26.75 to £15.99 across all its pharmacies. The move came months after the BPAS launched a campaign in 2017, calling on major retailers to lower the prices of emergency contraception.

However, while Superdrug and Tesco halved their prices at the time, selling the morning-after pill for around £13, Boots did not initially agree to follow the move.

In November, the multiple was also criticised after offering a 50% Black Friday discount on its morning-after pill to customers using a BLACKFRIDAY50 discount code.


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