PIP: The vaginal sponge, an over-the-counter spermicidal contraceptive, will no longer be available to US women. Whitehall-Robins Healthcare, which began manufacturing the sponge in 1983, has ceased manufacturing this product allegedly because of stringent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements. The FDA had found bacterial contamination in the air at the company plant and challenged the purity of water used, but did not oppose continued production of the sponge under hygienic conditions. Company officials maintained that testing and manufacturing upgrading would require extensive modifications in the plant, in turn necessitating price increases that would curtail sponge sales. No consumer complaints about the product were received. By 1993, the vaginal sponge had captured 29% of the market for over-the-counter contraceptives. Its advantages included insertion up to 24 hours before sexual intercourse and use for repeated sexual activity within a 24-hour period. Family planning workers have expressed concern about the decision to cease manufacture of the sponge since it was frequently selected by older adolescents due to its easy accessibility.