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Mysterious Empty Medicine Boxes Appear on the Shelves at Boots Flagship Store

20 October 2015
News Brand

Boots UK, the UK’s largest health and beauty retailer, displayed empty medicine boxes at its flagship Westfield store for one day to help Sparks raise awareness of the thousands of rare childhood diseases for which there is no cure or treatment.

Sparks, the charity that raises money to fund pioneering children's medical research, created the empty aptly named'Not Yet Available' boxes to represent the range of cures and treatments for over 4,000 rare childhood diseases which don’t currently exist.

Customers at the Boots UK Westfield store in London were able to purchase a ‘Not Yet Available’ box off the shelf by simply texting “FILL” to 70660, and all the money raised will be donated to Sparks. All in the hope that through supporting children’s medical research, we will one day fill the boxes and make what is not yet available, available.

Gabby Logan, Sparks’ Vice-President, comments: “As a mum, if my children are ill then for most things I can go to my nearest pharmacy and pick up the necessary medicine. However, the sad reality is that this option isn’t available to many parents across the UK. Children have these terrible rare diseases that don’t yet have a cure or treatment. I’ve supported Sparks for many years and it’s only through funding children’s medical research that we can hope to provide new cures and treatments.” 

The 'Not Yet Available' campaign, created by Global advertising agency BBH London, aims to raise awareness of this critical issue and encourages people to donate to Sparks by texting “FILL” to 70660 to donate £3.

According to Rare Disease UK (2015), there are over 4,000 rare childhood diseases without a cure or treatment. 30 per cent of children with a rare disease will die before they reach their fifth birthday. Without funding into children's medical research, these numbers will not change. 

Zillah Bingley, Chief Executive at Sparks comments: “earlier this year we asked the medical and research community where we should prioritise our funding. Rare disease research came out strongly as both needing funding and having great potential to benefit from it. With additional funding, it’s an area we feel we can make a huge difference for the children who have these devastating rare diseases.”

Mandeep Rauli; Store Manager at Boots Westfield comments; “When Sparks first approached us and asked if they could use our store for their awareness film, I did not foresee the impact we were about to witness. We are so used to being able to advise patients and customers and offer over the counter medicines to help make them feel better. The Not for Sale empty medicine boxes really highlighted the message that there are diseases out there that have no cure and we were delighted to be part of this campaign.”

Lindsey, whose child Zach was diagnosed with Krabbe disease said:

“You hear about rare diseases, but you don’t really pay a lot of attention to it because it’s not personal to you. Even when Zach was diagnosed, it didn’t seem real. It doesn’t happen to you. Since his diagnosis, we’ve come across a lot more rare diseases. You just suddenly become more aware. Rare disease devastates families. That’s what it’s done to us. Our lives will never be the same again because of Zach having a rare disease”.

Visit to find out more about the campaign and to donate.




‘Not Yet Available’ film can be viewed using the link below:


Notes to editors

  • Sparks raises money to fund pioneering children’s medical research. 1 in 30 children is born with a condition which may affect them for life.
  • Sparks supports clinicians and scientists who have the skills, innovation and passion to improve children’s lives forever. Since 1991, Sparks has funded more than 285 ground-breaking research projects in over 90 hospitals, universities and research institutions across the UK and overseas. Each new project is carefully reviewed by both medical professionals and a panel of parents. This ensures that Sparks is funding high quality science as well as investing in those projects most likely to have a benefit for children and families across the UK and beyond.
  • Every child matters - that’s why Sparks supports research into any medical condition affecting children’s health, from rare diseases to the most common illnesses.


About Boots UK

Boots UK (, the UK’s leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer, is part of the Retail Pharmacy International Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA), the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise.  With 2,511* stores in the UK, Boots UK is committed to providing exceptional customer and patient care, be the first choice for pharmacy and healthcare and offer innovative 'only at Boots' exclusive products such as the UK’s leading skincare brand No7, all delivered with the great value customers love. Created over 165 years ago, the Boots brand is still at the heart of the communities it serves.

*As at 31 May 2015 excluding equity method investments


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Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer with over 52,000 team members and around 1,900 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores.*

Boots serves its customers and patients for life as the leading provider of healthcare on the high street and the UK’s number one beauty destination. It offers an unrivalled depth and breadth of products, which incorporates its extensive own brand range and innovative portfolio of brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle Beauty and Sleek MakeUP.

2024 marks Boots’ 175th anniversary year. Founder John Boot opened a herbalist store in Nottingham in 1849 to offer an affordable alternative to traditional medicines. His son Jesse expanded the business to become a modern retailer and the biggest chemist in Britain. Throughout its history, Boots has listened, learned and innovated, and it continues to challenge itself to improve its products and services every day.

Boots is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail.  More company information is available on

*Figures accurate as of 31 May 2024