Female condom use is matter of choice

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

January 03, 1995|By Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

Q: I have been reading about the female condom in magazines and wonder if it might be worth trying. I can't take birth control pills because I've had thrombophlebitis. My husband and I have used foam and condoms but he complains that they interfere with sensation.

The female condom looks clunky and I don't want to waste money if it offers no advantage. Does it have the same drawbacks as the male condom?

A: Contraception is such a personal matter that we can't predict how you will like the female condom. This device is made from polyurethane plastic, which does offer certain advantages over latex.

Body heat is transferred more readily and some couples find it less constricting and more acceptable than a male condom. For men concerned about reduced sensitivity, this may represent an attractive alternative. You and your husband may have to try it to determine if the female condom is right for you.

Q: You often support the use of generic drug substitution for brand names. My concern is the gross laxity of the drug industry. How can I trust something to be what it says it is? FDA supervision is a joke!

You've said that the same company often makes both generic and brand name drugs. How can we assume they give equal care to both?

A: Your view of the pharmaceutical industry is far too cynical. While we have been critical of FDA policies and drug company prices, quality control is generally excellent. The FDA monitors both brand and generic drugs very carefully and recalls any pills that do not meet stringent standards.

For years, major manufacturers fought the idea of generic competition. But now they have switched their strategy and are cashing in themselves on the popularity of these cheaper alternatives. For example, Eli Lilly and Co., maker of the expensive antibiotic Ceclor, supplies identical cefaclor to a generic firm for distribution.

Similar arrangements exist for many brand-name drugs from other companies. These include Cardizem, Dyazide, Lopid, Naprosyn, Tenormin and Xanax.

Consumers can save lots of money by asking for generic instead of brand-name medicines. To get a list of brand-name drugs available in generic form, send $1 with a long (No.10) stamped, self-addressed envelope to Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. Z-1, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, N.C. 27717-2027. We will send our

Guide to Saving Money on Medicines.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert.

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