Condom Politics

August 5, 2005


From the Kaiser Family Foundation “Daily Reports” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford asking the agency to consider the findings of a new, not-yet-published study before requiring manufacturers to include a package warning stating that condoms do not protect against the transmission of the sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 8/3). According to Waxman, a study presented last month at the 16th biennial meeting of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, found that condoms significantly reduced the risk of HPV transmission among women. Researchers studied 200 female university students for 22 months — with medical exams conducted every four months — and found that women who used condoms 100% of the time were 70% less likely to acquire HPV than women who used condoms less than 5% of the time, according to Waxman (Waxman letter text, 8/2). “The new study, combined with previous evidence, seriously undermines the call by some conservative organizations and lawmakers for labeling that warns consumers that condoms do not protect against HPV,” Waxman wrote. Reaction “This is a debate Congressman Waxman lost five years ago when President Clinton signed a bill into law requiring the FDA to come up with a medically accurate condom label,” John Hart, spokesperson for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has led efforts to change condom labeling, said (CQ HealthBeat, 8/3). Coburn last month lifted a hold he had placed on Crawford’s nomination to become commissioner because of concerns about FDA failing to implement congressionally mandated labeling for condoms that clarifies the limits of their effectiveness. According to Hart, FDA assured Coburn that it will implement the law requiring more accurate condom labeling (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 7/18). An HHS spokesperson said FDA had received the letter and had no immediate comment on its contents or possible condom label changes (CQ HealthBeat, 8/3). More than half of sexually active people in the U.S. at some time contract HPV, which can cause genital warts and is associated