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Today Sponge sees brighter tomorrow
Women who have been searching for the Today contraceptive sponge on pharmacy shelves can stop hunting: Mayer Laboratories now serves as the U.S. distributor for the over-the-counter contraceptive.
Look for the product to be back on shelves at CVS, Duane Reade, Longs Drugs, and Walgreens drug stores across the country by the end of this month, says David Mayer, CEO of Mayer Laboratories. The company has entered into an agreement with Alvogen Group for exclusive distribution of the over-the-counter contraceptive in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Access to the sponge was curtailed when former owner Synova Healthcare Group filed for bankruptcy in late 2007. When existing product dwindled on pharmacy shelves in 2008, women were unable to purchase the contraceptive. Alvogen Group, whose manufacturing subsidiary, Norwich Pharmaceuticals, served as the manufacturer of the product, stepped in to purchase rights to the sponge.
'A contraception method of choice'
Norwich Pharmaceuticals had invested considerable time in developing the manufacturing process to meet Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements, says Doug Drysdale, Alvogen CEO. "Given this prior investment and the many requests that we have received from consumers looking for the product, we believe that the product continues to be a contraception method of choice," he states.
While the sponge has been a nonhormonal contraceptive option for many years, its ownership has shuffled among several companies. Its first owner, Whitehall-Robins Healthcare, ceased manufacture of the device in 1994 when it determined it cost too much to correct problems caused by water quality issues at the factory where the sponge was made. Allendale Pharmaceuticals then acquired manufacturing and marketing rights to the sponge in1999 and worked with the FDA to update labeling and manufacturing. Allendale obtained final FDA approval in April 2005. The company then was acquired by Synova Healthcare in 2007.
Mayer says his company is committed to bringing, and keeping, the Today sponge available as a contraceptive option for women. "We will let women know it is back out there, and we will let health professionals know why this is a preferred method for many women," says Mayer.
Look for the new product to sell at an estimated $14.99 for three sponges, says Mayer. Women also will be able to buy the sponge online at the product's web site, www.todaysponge.com. By clicking on the "buy" button, consumers will be directed to the online retailer, Mayer explains.
Look for updated packaging as well, says Mayer. While Synova Healthcare had changed the product packaging when it acquired the product, Mayer says the new packaging is more sophisticated in an effort to reach women ages 25-35 who are apt to use the contraceptive.
Circular in shape, the small pillow-shaped Today sponge is made of polyurethane and contains 1,000 mg of the spermicide nonoxynol-9 (N-9). It is moistened with tap water prior to use and inserted deep into the vagina. Removal is achieved by pulling the attached loop.
A single sponge protects for up to 24 hours, no matter how many times intercourse occurs. After intercourse, it must be left in place for at least six hours before it is removed and discarded. Wearing the sponge for longer than 24-30 hours is not recommended because of the possible risk for toxic shock syndrome.1
32% experience unintended pregnancy
According to the contraceptive efficacy table listed in Contraceptive Technology, within the first year of typical use of the sponge, 32% of parous women will experience an unintended pregnancy. With perfect use, the number drops to 20%. Sixteen percent of nulliparous women will experience unintended pregnancy with typical use; with perfect use, that figure is decreased to 9%.2
Like other vaginal barrier methods, the sponge does not cause systemic side effects and it does not alter a woman's hormone patterns. It does not require partner involvement in the decision to insert it. For women who need contraception only intermittently, it is available for immediate protection, no matter the interval between uses.
Women who use the sponge should be counseled to watch for the signals of toxic shock syndrome, which include sudden high fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, and sunburn-like rash. If women experience a high fever and one or more of the danger signs, they might have early toxic shock syndrome. They should remove the sponge and contact their provider immediately.1