O.b. Update: No Official Word Yet, But Laments Nationwide

An update on the Great Tampon Mystery of the suddenly non-existent o.b.'s (Please see the first post here, and post your comments at the bottom of it so we keep them all in one place):

I called the Johnson & Johnson communications person who handles the o.b. brand again today and left another message. Still no call-back. The FDA spokeswoman on medical devices says she's still trying to track down the appropriate expert, and will keep us posted as quickly as possible.

That's it on the official news. But unofficially, there's been an outpouring of responses to the first post from o.b.-seekers around the country. Several were happy to read official news about the o.b. disappearance because their fruitless searches made them feel somehow that they must be going crazy. (Ah, our tendency to self-blame!!)

Commenters report empty o.b. shelves from upper New York state to Canada to San Diego. One Californian has even put up a Website (it's here) asking fans of the o.b. Ultra (which has been officially discontinued, unlike the other sizes) to sign a petition and pressure Johnson & Johnson to bring the Ultra back.

This from Canada:

I am from Ottawa, Canada and have noticed the shortage in a number of our stores. Luckily, I live close to a number of small rural towns and was able to wing out to one of their grocery stores and clear out their stock (which was not much!). I ended up with about 70$ in tampons and a decidedly confused cashier.

This from San Diego:

I was wondering what was going on. I've been to several different stores and even on Amazon. NO one has any! I'm about to buy them on Ebay if I have to. They are the only thing I use. I tried others and they were awful. I hope this gets sorted out!

This from Washington, DC:

I thought I was slowly going mad, hallucinating that these things once existed after not being able to find them at Target, CVS et al. I blamed it on supply-chain issues, since many shelves in the city are bare compared to the abundance of the suburbs, but I just saw this post on my sidebar and almost dropped my laptop out of shock. Thank you for looking in to this!

This from Colorado:

No OBs in Colorado either. Just a small mountain town grocery store had them. My husband thought three boxes on Ebay (40/box) for $75 may be a good deal. Ha, ha. I checked Alabama while visiting - none there either. I gave up on applicators when they would show up on the Lake Michigan beach shore line (where I am originally from), it's just gross.

And another from San Diego:

I'm in San Diego and I'm livid! This is the first news coverage I've seen about this issue. If it were a viagra shortage, there would be riots in the street. I too have written to Johnson and Johnson. Accroding to blogs, some women are starting a letter writing campaign, buying tampons from England (Lil-lets), and even boycotting Johnson and Johnson. The company really did handle this badly. I've never used any other brand but now I'm joining the England contingent.

This program aired on December 20, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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