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Women can buy morning after pill online for just £4.99 

Chemist-4-U shoppers can order an 'advanced supply' of Levonelle, a generic version of the emergency contraception, at just the click of a mouse.

Women can now buy the morning after pill online for the first time in the UK - at a price of just £4.99.

It's understood to be the first time the pill is available on the internet, in a move that has already been branded 'alarming' by critics.

Chemist-4-U shoppers can order an 'advanced supply' of Levonelle, a generic version of the emergency contraception, at just the click of a mouse.

It means women can purchase one pack per order to be stored at home in the event they feel they will need it.

Women can now buy the morning after pill online for the first time in the UK - at a price of just £4.99 (file photo)

But according to The Sun, women will be required to fill out an online medical questionnaire before ordering the drug and will not be able to purchase more than three packs in six months.

Levonelle contains a powerful synthetic hormone that blocks egg production or cuts the odds of an egg implanting in the womb.

A description of the drug on Chemist-4-U's website says the pill prevents about 84% of expected pregnancies when it is taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex.

Currently sales of the emergency contraceptive are restricted in Britain, with single pills being sold one at a time.

A short consultation with a pharmacist in store is usually required before purchase.

In other stores women complete an online form which is then reviewed by a medical professional.

Earlier this summer a row broke out when Boots refused to cut the cost of the morning-after pill.

Labour MPs backed demands by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service - the country's biggest abortion provider - for pharmacists to half the price of emergency contraception.

Chemist-4-U shoppers can order an 'advanced supply' of Levonelle, a generic version of the emergency contraception, at just the click of a mouse

While Superdrug and Tesco agreed, Boots said it would not do so and said it would continue to charge £28.25 for the pill to avoid 'incentivising inappropriate use.' After much criticism, the chain said it was 'truly sorry' and its 'poor choice of words', and was looking at cheaper alternatives.

Boots has cut the cost of its version from £26 to £15.99 and Superdrug from £27 to £13.49.

HOW MORNING-AFTER PILL WORKS 

The morning-after pill prevents or delays ovulation after a woman has had sex, meaning an egg is not released or fertilised to make a baby.

Side effects include sickness, dizziness, abdominal and back pain, diarrhoea, extreme tiredness and in rare cases, if the pill fails, ectopic pregnancy – which can be fatal for both mother and child.

The NHS offers two pills, which cannot be taken by asthma sufferers.

Levonelle contains a powerful synthetic hormone that blocks egg production or cuts the odds of it implanting in the womb. EllaOne is a chemical that affects the processing of progesterone.

In the UK morning-after pills can be bought by anyone over 16, but some pharmacists have started to sell it to younger girls following new NHS guidance two years ago.

It is usually free in GP surgeries and NHS family planning clinics, but many women go to a high-street chemist as they are unable to get an appointment in time.

The pill can be bought from chemists only after a consultation with a pharmacist. Many women find this judgmental and embarrassing as they are quizzed about their sex life. Boots said it asks about ‘full medical history and any potential drug interactions’.

Two years ago, NHS guidance was relaxed to make the morning-after pill officially available under-16s. EllaOne and Levonelle were already given to young women by many pharmacists, but the ruling was the first nationwide licensing.. 

The pill can also be bought in Tesco for £13.50.

Now Chemist-4-U's latest move has sparked further concerns that greater accessibility to the pill could lead to an increase in STIs.

Dr Anthony McCarthy, from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, told The Sun: 'This is very alarming news. Making the morning after pill available online, even more than making it available in pharmacies, risks women's health for commercial gain.

'We know that with morning after pill use abortion rates do not go down overall but sexually transmitted infections increase due to more sexual risk-taking.

'Will women be made aware of the risks to them and possible risks to their embryos?' But Shamir Patel, director and pharmacist with Chemist-4-U, told the newspaper he 'firmly believes" in offering emergency contraception at an affordable price.

He said: 'We believe healthcare should be affordable, and the morning after pill is not an expensive product to produce.' He said that there were 'essential checks and balance' in place to avoid the ordering system being abused.

'It flags up in our system if anyone attempts to buy more than three in a six-month period,' he added.

'We then take measures to prevent this repeat purchasing.' A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) told The Sun: 'We see women at our clinics who are facing an unplanned pregnancy because they were unable to afford emergency contraception when they needed it.

'We have also heard from women who have gone through immense difficulty, skipped meals or had to borrow money from family members, in order to pay the historically high price-tag for emergency contraception.

'Pharmacies are doing the right thing for women and their wellbeing by reducing the price, and we absolutely commend their commitment.' Mr Patel added: 'We always advise women in an emergency situation to go to their nearest pharmacy that day, rather than waiting a day to receive it from an online pharmacy.

'However our belief is an advanced supply from us avoids the panic in the unlikely event of barrier method failure. 

'We advise all patients that the pill should not be used as a regular contraceptive method.' 

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