O.b. Update: No Official Word Yet, But Laments Nationwide

An update on the Great Tampon Mystery of the suddenly non-existent o.b.’s (Please see the first post here, and post your comments at the bottom of it so we keep them all in one place):

I called the Johnson & Johnson communications person who handles the o.b. brand again today and left another message. Still no call-back. The FDA spokeswoman on medical devices says she’s still trying to track down the appropriate expert, and will keep us posted as quickly as possible.

That’s it on the official news. But unofficially, there’s been an outpouring of responses to the first post from o.b.-seekers around the country. Several were happy to read official news about the o.b. disappearance because their fruitless searches made them feel somehow that they must be going crazy. (Ah, our tendency to self-blame!!)

Commenters report empty o.b. shelves from upper New York state to Canada to San Diego. One Californian has even put up a Website (it’s here) asking fans of the o.b. Ultra (which has been officially discontinued, unlike the other sizes) to sign a petition and pressure Johnson & Johnson to bring the Ultra back.

This from Canada:

I am from Ottawa, Canada and have noticed the shortage in a number of our stores. Luckily, I live close to a number of small rural towns and was able to wing out to one of their grocery stores and clear out their stock (which was not much!). I ended up with about 70$ in tampons and a decidedly confused cashier.

This from San Diego:

I was wondering what was going on. I’ve been to several different stores and even on Amazon. NO one has any! I’m about to buy them on Ebay if I have to. They are the only thing I use. I tried others and they were awful. I hope this gets sorted out!

This from Washington, DC:

I thought I was slowly going mad, hallucinating that these things once existed after not being able to find them at Target, CVS et al. I blamed it on supply-chain issues, since many shelves in the city are bare compared to the abundance of the suburbs, but I just saw this post on my sidebar and almost dropped my laptop out of shock. Thank you for looking in to this!

This from Colorado:

No OBs in Colorado either. Just a small mountain town grocery store had them. My husband thought three boxes on Ebay (40/box) for $75 may be a good deal. Ha, ha. I checked Alabama while visiting – none there either. I gave up on applicators when they would show up on the Lake Michigan beach shore line (where I am originally from), it’s just gross.

And another from San Diego:

I’m in San Diego and I’m livid! This is the first news coverage I’ve seen about this issue. If it were a viagra shortage, there would be riots in the street. I too have written to Johnson and Johnson. Accroding to blogs, some women are starting a letter writing campaign, buying tampons from England (Lil-lets), and even boycotting Johnson and Johnson. The company really did handle this badly. I’ve never used any other brand but now I’m joining the England contingent.

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  • Jrigan

    just stumbled into this and just for the record, insertion of anything for absorption purposes is not a great idea, and in practice will promote blood stagnation, and qi stagnation, both of which lead to serious issues in women’s health. pads are the way to go, from a health perspective

  • vee

    In Rhode Island I noticed the empty ob selves last summer. I went from Walgreens, RiteAid, stop n’ shop, Shaw’s, Walmart, CVS… and I did find them for $7 a box! I walked out of the store because (they are the brand I use, they are the best tampon) they didn’t have ultra! Ultra will get you through… & come on, tampons should be Free! Its a medical condition pure & simple! Because of that fact, right there it should be illegal for j&j to just stop production as millions of females use ob tampons Medically! So I won’t be buying online & paying $3 a tampon. Everything is going up! Its just sick how all these big corporations are inflating everything while pay checks stay the same & the gov sits back & continues its shack down!

    I can’t believe that Ultra is no more… but I’ll try the health food store… I mean if they have unbleached then that’s better anyway But I’m Not going to pay outrageous prices for something I already thought was overpriced… if men needed tampons it would be free! Men can’t get hard ons & the tax payer pays for his little blue pill! Heck, come tax time we females Don’t even make a dollar on the dollar But men do!

    Just shocking how we the female race are disregarded… j&j should have had to notify the female public… if it was viagras’ production size being changed So drastically it would have been on front page news Everywhere! We as the consumer Should get the last say! Not the other way around….
    Ob was the best then they just stopped delivering their best to consumers who lined their pockets!

  • VeganStyle

    In New Orleans, I noticed in Target (the ‘burbs) about two months ago that the shelves were shockingly empty of o.b. I thought it was just Target discontinuing a relationship with the brand. However, with my supply dwindling two days ago, I was forced to go shopping. I’ve found a precious few here – but NO Regular. Then, just the Pro-Comfort variety, which I stopped buying three years ago.

    I never even realized that Ultra was available for sale in the U.S., as I’ve never seen them advertised anywhere but on the back of the o.b. box…

    I’m a 42 year-old vegan, no children, never on hormonal birth control, no gyn issues. o.b. is the ONLY brand I’ve ever used, also. (I’m in very good company here.) After two calls to the manufacturer’s hotline were disconnected since last night, I decided to take it to the web for any info at all. Thank you all!

  • Justcurious

    On my travels, I found O.B. Ultra’s sold in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, but why have they been discontinued in USA?

  • Lorrileemccall

    I live in Iowa. This is the only tampon I like to use. It doesn’t leak and I can easily hide it in a pocket so I can walk down the hall at work and hide it from view. There is none to be found in our area. I did not like having to resort to wearing another brand.

  • Rachel

    Hello from Memphis! I’ve been all over the place in town here and there’s no sign of any OBs. In fact, I cannot even find a place for them on the shelves in Target and Krogers, but hopefully that’s only temporary. I just went to the OB website and this is what they’ve posted, dated Jan 10, 2011:
    So hopefully they will be shipping soon and back on our shelves pronto. I am also writing the company, begging them, just in case…

  • Ms B

    OB in general has become close to impossible to find in Toronto as well (any type…not just the coveted Ultras). In October I remember Shoppers Drug Mart had a sale on all types of OB’s and the sale lasted until they were gone…and they haven’t returned.

    Someone mentioned that Seventh Generation Super Plus were the same, but I have used them and they are not as large. They are about the same size as an OB Super Plus.

  • Ultra Mad

    Please sign this petition ( http://obultratampons.com/ob-ultra-tampon-petition/ ) to encourage Johnson & Johnson to bring back the largest size OB tampons, the Ultra.

  • Info

    I am in San Francisco and I need OB’s. What kind of a way is this to run a company? Can’t find them at all in anyplace and J&J does not provide any info.

  • 1234

    None to be found in Austin, TX. I am devastated.

  • Rachel

    OMG. we just went to walmart, albertsons, AND walgreens and not one ob tampon! theyre no where to be found! whats going on?

  • Korobkinm

    I just ran out last month as I usually have many boxes. I too went to many stores looking for this brand. No one at Target, two different WalMarts and a Walgreens, reported not knowing anything about it and said they had not noticed they were gone! I was so mad, I looked online for information. No notice from the company, no updates to staff working in stores- Thanks Johnson and Johnson. Good job look’en out your customers.
    Guess we can expect the same in the future?

  • Pacific NW

    Pacific NW

    Try New Season’s or Fred Meyer Natural section. They carry a non-applicator that is unbleached cotton. Even Better. It Would be cool if J&J decided to just start selling an unbleached cotton OB.
    Let’s go ahead and move forward, it is 2011!

  • Liviro

    Here in Chicago I had no luck in 3 different places (CVS, Walgreens, and Dominick’s). I have tried using the “Keeper,” which is a reusable menstrual cup, but it gets uncomfortable especially when you have cramps. Does anyone know of another tampon available without a wasteful and unnecessary applicator?

  • Heather

    I’m so glad to see this. None to be found in Northern California.

  • I miss Ob tampons.

    I’m in Cincinnati and have had the same problems!! Checked Target, drugstores, supermarkets…all Ob’s are completely gone. These are the only tampons I can and or will ever use, especially the Ultra’s! I finally got on the internet to order them online after suffering the last 2 months with Tampax, and came across these articles/blogs!!!! Happy to find out I am not crazy, but I miss the Ob tampon : ( Please bring it back to our shelves…ASAP.

  • Cindy

    J&J has also mysteriously stopped supplying their popular antacid product, Pepcid, with a remarkably similar story to this one. There was recall in August, but then Internet rumors are that they had quality control problems at the factory that has kept the shelves across the country bare. What is up with this company?? They don’t seem very smart at P.R….

  • Guest

    Spent the holiday week in Europe and there is no shortage of Ob’s over there… same exact product, at a much lower price than they cost in the US, even when they are available. Came back with a dozen boxes stuffed in my luggage, good thing customs didn’t open my bag, it could’ve gotten awkward : )

  • Ania

    none in Seattle…

  • Laurie Paskavitz

    They’ve been hard to come by for months, but I’ve at least been able to stay ahead of the river. They have a few days to stock the shelves before I come looking for their R&D folks.

  • Heather

    No O.B.s here in Atlanta! I thought it was just me. The CVS couldn’t explain it either. They thought maybe a recall but couldn’t find one. I have used them for the last 20 years…I don’t know what else to do!!! J&J you suck! I can’t believe you would let a country-full of women with PMS down like this. You must have a man in charge of this mess…

  • Oceans32160

    Hi, I recently bought Lil-lets from England…… $10 for 48 tampons mailed to Los Angeles, exactly like o.b.!

    • Sue

      I just went to their website….Lil-lets….they are now unable to ship to the US.

    • Divinetreehugger

      Apparently Lil-lets is no longer shipping to USA or Canada…

  • RRyan

    In Tarrytown, NY on vacation – did not know about shortage – went to four stores – thought I was losing it – hope the supply improves…..

  • Rebecca

    One question to put point-blank to J&J/McNeil-PPC: “Are you moving the machinery to Mexico/China/Taiwan?” U by Kotex tampons sold in the USA are made in Mexico.

  • Rebecca

    This is probably the address of the manufacturing plant for North America:


    Fires and strikes can cause supplies of a product to dry up. So can going offshore and the operation tanking (won’t meet government standards, machines don’t work, etc.). But if you follow how products willingly discontinued by their manufacturers (like Progresso canned tomatoes) disappear, we see the same pattern here.

    By remaining close-mouthed, J&J/McNeil-PPC will invite investigation. Remember, McNeil made the Tylenol without the sealed bottles.

    P.S. Muir Glen canned tomatoes are made in the same plant as the Progresso were.

  • Hanna

    How strange! They (J&J) were even sending out samples on request a few months ago, and now, poof!, no product? Glad I had a stash already, but I’ll be very sad if they never return to the shelves. I’ve had some good days with the Diva Cup, but it is easier to carry O.B. around when the Diva Cup is too messy to manage. As far as I know, nobody else in the U.S. makes tampons like that, unless it’s 7th Generation or some similar “health food” store brand.
    I thought paying 7+ bucks per box of 40 O.B. tampons was outrageous, so there is no way I’ll be buying from Ebay or importing stuff myself.
    And yes, I’ll sign up to ask for the Ultra’s return.

  • Jo-Marie Diamond

    From San Diego as well — I can’t believe that I thought I was imagining it but the O.B.s — my only choice except in dire emergencies since the early 1980s — were disappearing from shelves around the region. I’ve been able to find some of the nearly-useless regular size but no super plus, not anywhere, must less the ultras (that now learn have been officially discontinued). I am going through an especially unpredictable perimenopause and o.b.s let me carry a covert supply at all times. This situation renders me nearly speechless.