Boots pharmacy
Boots has apologised for the wording used in reply to a campaign to lower morning-after pill price Reuters

Boots has apologised for its response to a campaign calling for it to cut the cost of one of its morning-after pill brands.

The British pharmacy chain has said it is "truly sorry" for its "poor choice of words" over the price of emergency contraception.

Boots was widely criticised after it told the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) it would not lower the price of the progestogen-based drug Levonelle as it wanted to avoid "incentivising inappropriate use."

The BPAS described the "deliberately high" pricing of Levonelle as "insulting" to women.

The Levonelle brand costs £28.25 in Boots, while a non-branded version of the drug costs £26.75. The price of Levonelle is significantly higher in the UK than in other European countries.

In France, the pills are sold for as little as £5.

The company's response to BPAS was slammed on Twitter by journalists, women's rights campaigners and politicians, including Labour MP Yvette Cooper who wrote: "This is patronising and pathetic - keeping emergency contraception price too high cos you don't trust women & are scared of critics."

Labour MP Jess Phillips called on women to boycott Boots. "It's totally unacceptable and also totally commercial, they're willing to take a moral stance if it pays them. They're still willing to sell it.

"I don't usually agree with calling for boycotts but in this case I encourage women to vote with their feet and to not use Boots," she told The Telegraph.

Following the outcry, Boots apologised and promised to look for cheaper alternatives.

"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 apologize," Boots said in a statement late on Friday (21 July).

"We are committed to looking at the sourcing of less expensive EHC medicines, for example generics, to enable us to continue to make a privately funded EHC service even more accessible in the future," the company added.