News & Politics

The O.B. Tampons Shortage: A Story of Loss and Longing


Tampons. They are important to ladies. We won’t go into the details here, but suffice it to say, they’re personal. Intimate, even. So when o.b. nonapplicator tampons disappeared from the shelves of our local Duane Reades, something of a Seinfeld: The Sponge Episode was born. Except maybe born isn’t quite the right metaphor. Or maybe it is! At any rate, women started freaking out, trying to buy them on Ebay, running up the price to $76 for three packs normally worth a little less than $30, reports the Daily News.

Women, you are not alone. But how bad is the betrayal, really? We spoke to a 30-year-old New York City photographer who’s a long-time user of the brand. Here’s her story.

When did you find out your favorite tampons were no longer in stores?
November 18, 2010…The date is pretty much seared into my memory because I’d forgotten to buy tampons prior to that time-of-the-month (not thinking it would be a problem to just pop over to the drugstore and pick some up) and had to run out of work at lunchtime. I went to the local Duane Reade…no luck. Then to the other local Duane Reade. Again, no luck. Then to Ricky’s, Walgreens, and some random local pharmacy, all in Midtown West.

By that point, I was practically crying, practically screaming….None to be found anywhere. After work, having made do with the brand supplied by the sad dispenser in the office bathroom, I checked out another four stores (three Duane Reade’s and one CVS). Nope. Nothing! At this point, I threw a package of maxi-pads on the ground in protest….It made sense at the time.

How long had you been using the brand?
At least four years.

What did you do next?
I did speak to Johnson & Johnson about it, believe it or not. I called because I wondered if there had been a product recall. I was told that the Ultras were being discontinued and in the meantime they had had some problem with production so there was a major slow down in getting tampons into stores. This is NOT something a woman with her period can really emotionally handle….I almost cried. I definitely bitched about it to the more-than-accommodating phone rep. Sorry, phone rep.

How do you feel now?
Abandoned. Annoyed. Bordering on betrayed……I mean, I see where it makes sense because it’ll help them to sell more products since the more absorbent sizes meant women would use fewer. Good business move, bad moral move.

Will you ever buy anything o.b. again?
I’m still traumatized….It’ll take awhile to get over and I can’t say I ever will. They left me hanging at the worst possible time, without warning. That’s grounds for complete separation.

If you don’t feel that way, yet, Gothamist has located a few remaining boxes in DUMBO. Don’t everybody run out all at once.

Women searching far and wide for o.b. tampons after they mysteriously disappear from store shelves [Daily News]
J&J’s latest headache caused by its o.b. tampons [Reuters]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 19, 2011


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