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August 21, 1987

Dangerous Delays in Tampon Absorbency Warnings

JAMA. 1987;258(7):949-951. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400070087042

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study in this issue of The Journal confirms the strong association between increased tampon absorbency and enhanced risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS)1 and again highlights, as seen with aspirin and Reye's syndrome,2 the dangerous delay between scientific knowledge and its conversion into public policy. The failure of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to warn women adequately based on evidence available more than six years ago, a failure prolonged by the tampon industry, has caused unnecessary risks to millions of American women who regularly use tampons.

Since early 1981, when the FDA was first informed by Minnesota Health Department epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, of the results of the Tri-State Study, which concluded that "women who used high absorbency tampons had a greater relative risk of developing TSS than women who used low absorbency tampons,"3 there have been 1584 reported