Shoppers Drug Mart slashes "pink tax" on menstrual pain meds: report

Mar 24 2023, 3:24 pm

Shoppers Drug Mart has slashed the “pink tax” on menstrual pain medication after a CBC Marketplace investigation found that pain relievers marked as a remedy for menstrual cramps were priced higher than similar painkillers marketed for headaches and other pain.

Loblaw, the retail pharmacy chain’s parent company, told Marketplace over email on March 15 that it “recognizes the importance of equity and access and will align the price of these products within a week.”

The CBC’s investigation found proof of the “pink tax” after comparing medication located in the pain relief aisle with those found in the feminine products aisle at various Shoppers Drug Mart locations across the Greater Toronto Area and online.

It compared the price of Maxidol, which is marketed as “fast relief from menstrual cramps, headaches, backache” and other pain with Aleve.

shoppers drug mart

Shoppers Drug Mart

Both drugs are made by Bayer and contain 220 milligrams of naproxen sodium, a non-steroid pain reliever.

They both come in liquid gel capsules with boxes containing the same amount of caplets.

However, Aleve is located in the pain relief aisle, while Maxidol is found in the feminine hygiene section.

And Marketplace found that the prices reflected that. Aleve was priced at just $13.99 and purchased on sale for $11.49.

Maxidol came out to $16.99. Minus the sale, that’s a “pink tax” of about $3.

The CBC also found two versions of Life Brand generic naproxen sodium tablets, a drug that is owned by Loblaw.

shoppers drug mart

Shoppers Drug Mart

One was labelled “naproxen menstrual pain relief” and the other as just “naproxen.”

Both versions have 220 milligrams of naproxen sodium, 24 caplets, up to 12 hours of relief, and identical active and inactive ingredients.

Marketplace found that while both boxes claim the drug is a treatment for menstrual cramps, the box labelled “menstrual pain relief” on the front costs 50 cents more than the box without that labelling.

Shoppers told CBC that the price difference between Life Brand’s medication is due to manufacturers charging more for the product advertising menstrual pain relief on the front.

The price difference between Maxidol and Aleve was due to two different departments purchasing the products without doing a pricing review between them, Loblaw told Marketplace. 

As of March 24, over a week after Loblaw’s statement, prices online have evened out, but they’re still inconsistent across the GTA, reported Marketplace.

Checking online, Daily Hive found that both Aleve and Maxidol are being sold for $14.49. The Life Brand “naproxen menstrual pain relief” and “naproxen” are also the same price of $6.99.

In an email statement to Daily Hive, Loblaw confirmed that it’ll be “be aligning the prices, which will see a reduction in price of the menstrual products.”

Last year, the federal government introduced a national pilot project that aims to give Canadians more affordable menstrual products.

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