Thu, Jul 20, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Online tampon sales scuppered

SANITARY BAN The government has issued a banning order to halt online sale of the ladies' hygiene product much to the chagrin of sellers and customers alike

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The selling of tampons on online auction Web sites will be banned starting this Tuesday, according to a Department of Health order issued last week.

The department demanded that tampons, along with several other types of medical equipment, be forbidden from being sold online. The order was delivered to a popular Internet auction site last weekend.

The department said that tampons were considered medical appliances, and thus could not be sold online. Only pharmacists with a license can sell medical products, it added.

The department's Pharmaceutical Affairs Division director Lin Hsiu-chuan (林秀娟) said the nation models its categorization of medical appliances on the US Food and Drug Administration's classifications.

As a result, the department imposed regulations on selling tampons when they were first introduced into Taiwan, she said.

Using tampons is riskier than sanitary towels because they are inserted into the body, Lin said, adding that the country also requires manufacturers to put instructions and warnings on Tampon boxes.

The department said buying tampons from online sellers may not guarantee buyers good after-sale service or product safety.

However, for online sellers and buyers of tampons, the ban is set to cause much inconvenience.

A tampon seller surnamed Yu called the department's ban the result of "old-fashioned thinking." She said tampons have been a necessity in Western countries for years and are environmentally friendly.

She said the department was ignoring the popularity of the online method of buying.

"The Internet is a trend. They [the department] should keep this in mind," she said.

Huang Hsiao-hui (黃曉惠), a 32-year-old housewife, said she could not understand why tampons were considered medical appliances.

As she is allergic to sanitary towels, Huang said she has been buying US and Japanese branded tampons online for more than two years.

She said she would feel more at ease if there were a trustworthy platform to buy tampons online, but the department had now taken this option away.

Huang said if the department would not allow tampons to be sold on the Internet, it could at least make tampons widely available in other places.

According to an article written by Cheng Ling-fang (成令方), chairwoman of the Graduate Institute of Gender Study at Kaohsiung Medical University, and Hsu Pei-hsin (許培欣), a teacher at Tung Fang Institute of Technology in the Chinese-language China Times in early March, only 2.1 percent of women in Taiwan use tampons, while up to 81 percent of women in the US are tampon users.

Cheng and Hsu said the low usage rate for tampons in Taiwan should be attributed to "the department's old-fashioned regulations."

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