Boots 'truly sorry' for chief pharmacist's morning-after pill comments

Pharmacy giant Boots has apologised after its chief pharmacist Marc Donovan said the company might "incentivise inappropriate use" of emergency contraception by lowering its price.

Donovan made the comments last week in a letter to the British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS), after the service called on Boots to "drop the huge sexist surcharge" on emergency contraception.

Boots currently charges £28.25 for a branded version of the morning-after pill and £26.75 for its own generic. In comparison, Tesco now charges £13.50 for the branded product, while Superdrug charges £13.49 for the generic, the BPAS said.

In the letter to the BPAS, Donovan said: "We would not want to be accused of incentivising inappropriate use, and provoking complaints, by significantly reducing the price of this product."

Those comments caused a backlash on social media and several negative headlines for the retailer and pharmacist.

Boots then issued an apology, published on its website on Saturday, saying: "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 pharmacy giant said: "We firmly believe in the right of all women to access the EHC service with ease and convenience, and have long been at the forefront of increasing accessibility of contraception for women."

Boots has now said it would now look at sourcing less expensive EHC medicines.

Agency changes

In February, Boots' parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance announced WPP had been appointed to handle its global marketing, communications and advertising activity, in a deal worth a reported $600m (£476m).

WPP's PR agencies, which include Cohn&Wolfe, Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy PR, Hill & Knowlton Strategies and Finsbury, plus several others, were in line to pick up substantial briefs.

Burson has been awarded the brief to handle PR for Boots in the UK, and this account is currently being handed over from incumbent Red Consultancy, PRWeek understands.

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