Proposed Labels for Condoms Misleading, Say Critics

Condom package labeling is undergoing a change and the government agency has issued draft guidelines seeking comments. Some are saying that if the draft does not change, the resulting labels could be misleading and inaccurate when it comes to a certain sexually transmitted disease.

Five years after former President Clinton signed new requirements for labeling into law, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is giving a 90-day period for public comments. Some have criticized the guidelines for not giving an accurate picture of an STD that causes cervical cancer, although recent studies have shown that a vaccine against the disease may soon be on the market.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) – a physician from Oklahoma who pushed for developing more accurate labeling – said that while the new draft guidelines are an improvement they are still misleading. Coburn contends that when the FDA states that condoms “may” provide protection against cervical cancer, which can caused by the sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus (HPV), it is not accurate.

“This is speculation rather than scientific fact and is misleading,” Coburn wrote in a released statement. Citing a 2002 study published three years ago in November by the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, he states that there was “no consistent evidence of a protective effect of condom use on HPV DNA detection,” and in some cases increased the risk for the cancerous lesions, which appear in the outer uterus. He added that in five years since the FDA had the opportunity to implement the new law, over 27 million Americans had become infected with the disease.

Linda Klepacki, Analyst for Sexual Health at Focus on the Family called the draft guidelines an “appalling deception.” She said that there is no medical evidence relating to diseases that condoms reduce the risk of contracting HPV.

"Under the guise of correcting previous errors, the FDA has allowed the condom purveyors to continue to create false hope about the effectiveness of their product,” she stated.

"Even more disturbing is the knowledge that our children are being indoctrinated with this deception in their schools – in the name of comprehensive sex-ed. Our kids are being assured that they should place their faith in a piece of latex – never knowing that they are jeopardizing their own lives if they do so.”