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Condom for women gets high interest

Two months after the first condom for women was introduced in stores, its maker is reporting an intense amount of interest from retailers, doctors and women.

Wisconsin Pharmacal Inc., which introduced the Reality condom in mid-August, said Friday the product has gotten wide acceptance at the wholesale level. It is now available in major drugstore chains, mass merchandisers, supermarket chains and independent pharmacies and groceries in all states, the company said.

"We're starting to get reorders in and we wouldn't if people weren't buying it," said company spokeswoman Holly Sherman.

As of Sept. 30, that interest translated into $1.6-million worth of sales. Sherman wouldn't disclose how many condoms that translates to, but it is a tiny fraction of male condom sales.

Nonetheless, there are other encouraging indications, Sherman said.

Nine states have agreed to reimburse the cost of the condom for participants in the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor _ Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Many state Medicaid programs already cover male condom use.

Print advertising in major women's magazines and medical journals is generating 1,000 calls a week to a toll-free line from people looking for more information, the company said.

It's a soft plastic tubular sheath, closed at one end, that can be inserted into the vagina hours before sex.

The condom takes some practice to insert properly and part of it remains outside the woman's body during sex, a fact some consider a turnoff. It also has a list price of about $3.