March 4, 2011
First approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, the female condom was slow to gain acceptance. Now, however, the improved version, dubbed FC2, appears to be making headway.
The number of FC2s distributed in the United States last year tripled, said Mary Anne Leeper, founder of its manufacturer, the Female Health Company. The product now is sold in more than 100 nations, and it even has fans on Facebook.
On Valentine's Day, the San Francisco Department of Public Health handed out free FC2s in several neighborhoods. Also that week, Walgreen's stocked three-packs of the condoms, priced at $6.99, in about 10 percent of its 7,600 stores, many in cities with high HIV burdens.
In Chicago, New York City, and New York state, health departments are partnering with non-profits to distribute FC2s to women as well as to men who have sex with men, although data about the device's safety and efficacy for anal sex are lacking.
All 55 CVS stores in Washington carry the FC2, priced at $6.49 for a three-pack, and last year 25,000 people there used it, Leeper said.
Whereas the original female condom was made of polyurethane, the improved version, approved by FDA in March 2009, is seamless and made of more comfortable synthetic latex.