First plastic condom for men becomes available next year.


A new male condom made of polyurethane will be marketed in 1994 for those who do not like latex condoms according to officials at London International U.S. Holdings in New York City, the manufacturing firm. The company makes well-known latex condoms, including Ramses, Sheik, Durex, Hatu, and London. Company officials expect it will be more acceptable to men because it is more comfortable to those who have objections to using latex condoms. The major objections include odor and decreased sensitivity. The new plastic condom will probably cost more than latex condoms but less than natural skin condoms. The condom will be made from a new material called Duron and it received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for market several years ago. In company-conducted tests, the new condom's failure rate was no different than for top-quality latex condoms. Because the new material is thinner and stronger than latex, it can be made to fit looser than a latex condom. The new condom will be slightly bigger than its latex counterpart. Polyurethane will not cause problems for those allergic to latex, and it will not break down when used with oil-based lubricants. The new material is expected to last longer than latex, but for safety it probably should be treated like a latex condom in terms of heat exposure. A new plastic condom is being studied at Family Health International (FHI), a nonprofit medical research organization located in Durham, NC. In June 1992, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, awarded FHI $1.3 million to develop and test over a 4-year period a condom made of soft, thin plastic. FHI has developed several prototypes and is evaluating them in ongoing clinical trials. Another nonlatex condom, called Tactylon, is still awaiting FDA approval. The FDA has called for several tests to rule out cancer risk from the product and to clarify any shelf-life hazards.

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