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FDA Clears Way for Female Condoms to be Shipped to U.S.

April 15, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Female condoms will start appearing in American drugstores this summer after the administration acted Thursday to allow an American company to ship them into the country.

The Food and Drug Administration notified Wisconsin Pharmacal, which makes the Reality female condom, that it had approved the export of the product from a London plant, said company spokeswoman Holly Birnbaum Sherman.

The Reality female condom was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May 1993. It is currently available only at some family planning clinics and AIDS treatment centers, mostly on the East and West coasts.

It will retail for about $2.50 per condom, packaged three to a box, wrapped and prelubricated in individual packets, with additional lubricant provided.

The Reality condom will be available in August, Sherman said.

Sherman said while Reality acts as a contraceptive it is designed to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The condom, made of a thin plastic called polyurethane, covers the cervix, lines the vaginal canal and partially extends over the labia.

Women using the condom have told researchers that it felt better than the male condom and liked that it can be inserted hours before intercourse.

But one disadvantage is its appearance, some women told the researchers. The condom is a cylindrical plastic pouch, with flexible rings at both ends. When inserted, it protrudes from the vagina.

″If you take a look at it without having used it, it’s certainly not an attractive looking product,″ Gatson Farr of Family Health International in North Carolina told The Associated Press last year.

Nonetheless, Farr, who has done research on the female condom, said she found ″many women liked it very much.″

The high capacity Chartex International plant in London manufactures the condoms and has been supplying European and other contries for the past two years. Wisconsin Pharmacal, which has sold roughly 80,000 condoms at a reduced price to 400 health and family planning clinics since September 1993, manufactured the condoms at a small production plant in Jackson, Wisc.

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