1. Health

Today Contraceptive Sponge

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Updated December 07, 2003

Do you remember the Today Contraceptive Sponge?

Maybe you've used it. Have you ever wondered what happened to the Sponge? It was a convenient, effective, and non-hormonal contraceptive choice for women. It did not require a prescription. You could purchase the contraceptive sponge at your local grocery or drugstore. It could be inserted in the morning and provide protection against pregnancy for the next 24 hours.

Production of the Sponge ceased in March 1994 after a comprehensive FDA inspection of the only plant where the Sponge was made. The sponge supply quickly dwindled and the FDA was inundated with questions regarding the decision of Whitehall- Robins Healthcare to stop manufacturing the Sponge. According to a statement issued by the FDA, in 1995, to answer these questions, the inspection revealed "bacterial contamination of the water used to make the Today Sponge as well as other products manufactured in the facility, including nasal sprays, ointments and suppositories."

While the FDA had no objection to the continued production of the Today Sponge, "under appropriate manufacturing and hygienic conditions," Whitehall-Robins basically decided that the cost of modifications to the plant that would bring it up to acceptable manufacturing standards, and that the market for the Sponge was not large enough to justify continued production. The Today Sponge continues to be a FDA-approved drug in the U.S., and an approved device in Canada.

The FDA believed that the many other over-the-counter contraceptives on the market for women such as the female condom and spermicides, as well as the host of prescription contraceptives from IUDs to oral contraceptives would lessen the impact of the loss of the contraceptive sponge for consumers. But they were wrong.

Many, many women still look for the Sponge, wondering when it will again become available.

"I used the Today Sponge for years in my early relationship with my husband. We loved it! It was both convenient and reliable! Unfortunately, the sponge was taken off the market. I heard two separate reasons as to why: 1- too many cases of ER visits for removal and other complications 2- the company economically failed. Either way one of the greatest modern forms of contraceptives is no longer available. GOOD NEWS... some months ago there was a rumor of a similar product coming to market".LAWRENSC

One man has been on a three-year crusade to bring the Sponge back to women. Gene Detroyer emailed me in 1998 wondering how he could determine whether women really wanted the Sponge back on the market. He wanted to bring the Sponge back and needed some hard figures to present to potential investors. He was able to determine that there is a market for the Today Contraceptive Sponge, and to obtain the financial backing necessary to bring the Sponge back.

Gene Detroyer who is CEO of the small, privately held, Allendale Pharmaceuticals and his partner toxicologist Robert Staab bought the Today Contraceptive Sponge from American Home Products for $7 million three years ago.

According to the December 25, 2000 issue of Forbes, Mr. Detroyer believes that the Today Sponge has the potential to reach $27 million a year in sales and he's expecting 3 million women to use them.

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