UK prices for morning after pill: is there an alternative?

morning after pill prices headlines

News articles over the weekend (7-8 May 2016) revealed that women in the UK are paying an astonishing five times more for the morning after pill than those in other European countries.

Experts have also expressed outrage at the hoops that must be jumped through to get the drug, calling on the government to make it available off the shelf, as well as reduce the price. Unlike in France, Scandinavia, and the United States, the pill is not available without a consultation; women are required to undergo a consultation and discuss their sex lives with a pharmacist or doctor in order to access the time-sensitive emergency contraception.

High costs and a difficult process to obtain the morning after pill have resulted in what Anne Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service calls a framework that is “insulting, expensive and does not meet women’s needs”, according to The Independent.

How do the costs stack up?

According to The Times, research shows that the morning after pill costs as little as £5.40 in France and £12.50 in Germany, yet in the UK women pay an average £28. In Ireland the pill comes at an even-higher price.

Country-specific information on morning after pill accessibility and cost is provided by the European Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ECEC).

photo of woman the morning after unprotected sex

How many women use the morning after pill?

In the UK it is estimated that approximately 61% of all women have used emergency contraception, and this is the highest figure in the EU.

Is it safe?

A single-dose hormone tablet, the morning after pill is generally considered safe by medical professionals. It works in part by preventing or delaying ovulation. It can also work to prevent fertilisation of an egg that has already been released into the fallopian tube, and prevent a fertilised egg from attaching to the lining of the uterus.

There are two kinds of pill available: Levonelle (Levonorgestrel), which must be taken within 72 hours of sex, and EllaOne (Ulipristal), which can be taken up to 120 hours after sex.

How can the pill be obtained?

Emergency contraceptive pills are available from contraception clinics, GP surgeries, sexual health clinics, some GUM clinics, and some online pharmacies and clinics and some young people’s clinics.

They are also available free from some NHS walk-in centres and Accident & Emergency departments. However, as The Times reports, of the 600,000 pills taken by British women every year, nearly half of them are paid for, with the cost and embarrassment associated with obtaining one forcing many women to seek out other methods of doing, such as unlicensed online vendors who sell morning after pills on eBay. As the ECEC points out, a behind-the-counter policy, as present in the UK, “significantly affects women’s access to this method”, and many “felt uncomfortable or judged when obtaining it.”

The morning after pill from Dr Fox

Women can request the morning after pill to reserve as a standby treatment from Dr. Fox after completing an online consultation with a registered doctor, which in most cases requires no more than filling out a simple questionnaire. One or two doses can be obtained at the following low prices.

Prices of morning after pill for standby use
Levonelle 1.5mg1 tablet (single dose)£12.80
Levonelle 1.5mg2 tablets (2 single dose treatments)£19.80
ellaOne 30mg1 tablet (single dose)£24.40
Levonelle 1.5mg2 tablets (2 single dose treatments)£44.40

Though the UK stands out as one of the most expensive places in Europe to purchase the morning after pill, with Dr. Fox you can obtain it online, in advance, at a reduced price – and avoid the embarrassment of any face-to-face consultation.

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