Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 at 10:44am
This weekend we saw criticism hit Britain’s largest pharmacy, after the chain refused to reduce the price of its morning after pill.
Many of its high-street competitors had already slashed their prices but Boots stood strong over its stance – a cut in price would only incentivise the use of the morning after pill, something the brand simply does not support.
While Boots charges £28.25 for Lovenelle and £26.75 for its own version, Tesco charges a much lower price of £13.50 for Levonelle with Superdrug retailing a generic product at £13.49.
Boots received pressure from MP’s to lower its price of the emergency contraceptive, labelling it “unacceptable”, while health campaigners claimed women were being hit with a “sexist surcharge”.
After the attack, Boots rhetoric sparked controversy through suggesting women would misuse the morning after pill if the price was reduced. This recent news initiated conversation and debate throughout the country, and of course, here at Papillon PR we had some views of our own.
Kim Whitty, our graduate account executive says:
“Although I agree that the Morning After Pill should be readily available, I think that as a business, it’s important to stand by your company values, and that’s ultimately what Boots have done. However, as they came out and openly admitted, their response to the criticism could’ve been handled much better.
Company values are the core of any organisation and they are what build a brand. They run throughout the business from top to bottom and although Boots have apologised for the handling of the situation, I feel they are right to stand by their decision not to lower the price of the Morning After Pill.
Having read further into Boots’ explanation for the higher pricing, it was made aware to me that the fee for a pharmacist consultation, which is necessary to ensure side effects are thoroughly explained and understood, is included in the price of the medication.”
On the flip side, Sophie Marsh, senior account executive at Papillon PR, explains:
“As women, we should all be able to make the choice that is right for us, and to me that means independently of our bank accounts. As a pharmacy, the well-being of consumers is of course the ultimate priority and yes, we should always be concerned about the “appropriate use” of any product.
However, as soon as you add a cost deterrent or a one-size-fits-all solution rather than investing in better consultations or proper advice, you’re taking the choice away from women and in the process, completely eliminating the consumer from the decision-making process.”
Boots’ primary response to the criticism initially provoked backlash from many stakeholders, however, recent handling of the matter proves a solid move in the direction of positive corporate social responsibility.
After issuing a public apology, Boots recognised the ramification of its initial statement and said it is “truly sorry” for the way it responded to a campaign to cut the price of emergency contraception.
Boots have now said they are “committed” to finding less expensive versions of the drug and have issued further information on the reasoning behind its price tag.
All-in-all, it’s apparent that Boots will choose its wording more wisely in future, however, through the brand’s ability to respond quickly in a transparent way, we doubt this will have much impact on its bottom line. Only time will tell…