Magazine article Drug Topics

Today Sponge Returning after Four-Year Absence

Magazine article Drug Topics

Today Sponge Returning after Four-Year Absence

Article excerpt

In a comical scene from "Seinfeld," character Elaine Benes hoarded contraceptive sponges as news spread that the Today Sponge, a popular contraceptive sold from 1982 to 1995, would no longer be manufactured. For women who used it, the product's disappearance was not a laughing matter. The good news for these women: The Today Sponge is set to make a comeback by mid fall.

Allendale Pharmaceuticals, Allendale, N.J., is the firm that is bringing the product back to life, having purchased the brand from American Home Products Corp. in December 1998. AHP withdrew the product from the market in January 1995 because of contamination in the manufacturing plant. The sale of the brand includes worldwide trademark rights, distribution and transition support, and manufacturing equipment.

Gene Detroyer, Allendale Pharmaceuticals' chief executive, told Drug Topics that pharmacists and physicans will begin receiving educational information by late summer, before the product hits the shelves. "Pharmacists are very important. We've done research to find where women get their information in terms of OTC birth control methods and found that their primary source is their friends and the secondary source is their pharmacist," said Detroyer.

In addition to a pharmacist education program, the firm is launching a high school education program and college sampling and education program. Free product samples will be distributed to college students.

Detroyer said that the company will rely more on a public relations campaign than an advertising effort. "We feel the credibility of public relations efforts are stronger than advertising for a product like this. We will have some direct-to-consumer advertising. We feel we will get the biggest response from talking to the potential users directly in a non-advertising environment. In many high schools, contraception and birth control are part of the curriculum. We'll provide information within that curriculum that there are several alternatives to use. In some schools where teaching of contraception or birth control is a sensitive issue, we won't be able to do that," he said.

When queried about whether the company will attempt to convey that the Today Sponge was taken off the market because of contamination at the manufacturing facility and not because there was anything wrong with the contraceptive, Detroyer said, "We want to give everyone confidence that it's a safe and efficacious product. …

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