Officials at VLI Corp. responded angrily Friday to reports that the company's contraceptive sponge is far less effective than claimed for women who have already borne children.
Recent studies conducted by North Carolina and New Jersey researchers contend that the Irvine company's Today contraceptive sponge failed in 28% of women who had previously given birth. A brochure packaged with the sponges says there is a failure rate of 9% to 15%.
"When you look at the clinical trial results, which included women who had had children and who hadn't, there is no evidence to indicate that the Today sponge has higher failure rates with women who have had children," said Mary George, VLI vice president for marketing. But one of the new studies, conducted by Susan McIntyre and James Higgins of Family Health International, a nonprofit research organization in Research Triangle Park, N.C., found that Today's failure rate among 1,454 women was 28.3% among those with children, compared with 13.9% among childless women.
Princeton University's Office of Population Research demographers Kathyrn Kost and James Trussell conducted a review of three sets of studies and found that the sponges failed to prevent pregnancy in 28% of women with children, compared with 18% of childless women.