Because a paragraph was dropped from a story in yesterday's Washington Post, an article on the suspension of sales of Rely tampons did not carry all the information it should have. The story said that Rely was still on the shelf and available for sale at Higgers Drugs, 5013 Connecticut Ave. NW.The next paragraph -- which did not appear in the paper -- said the owner of the drug store had the Rely tampons removed from the shelf after a reporter asked about them.
Three chain stores and some independently operated pharmacies in the Washington area still had Rely tampons on their shelves and available for sale yesterday, a full day after Procter & Gamble announced a suspension of sales because of questions about the product's safety.
Representatives of Grand Union, A&P and 7-Eleven said they are in the process of removing the Rely brand, which has been linked to a disease called toxic-shock syndrome, which usually occurs in young women. It may take one or two days for all of the stores in those chains to respond to the stop-sale orders, officials said.
"We didn't receive the telegram from Procter & Gamble until this morning," said Don Valillancourt, a vice president of Grand Union.
Most other major chains in the Washington area, however, took steps last week to withdraw Rely. At Giant Food, officials "took it upon ourselves to pull if off the shelves," spokesman Barry Scher said. That decision was made before Procter & Gamble announced Monday that it was temporarily discontinuing the product.
Safeway, Peoples Drug, Drugfair and Dart also had cleared their shelves of the Rely tampons by yesterday, according to a survey of stores in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia.
Procter & Gamble sent telegrams to major U.S. retailers Monday saying it was voluntarily withdrawing the Rely tampons. Last week, a public warning about the product was issued by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, which found that 71 percent of 50 young women who suffered from toxic-shock syndrome in July and August had used Rely tampons.
Edward G. Harness, Procter & Gamble chairman, said the company "knows of no defect in the Rely tampon."
Officials of the company met yesterday with officials of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to discuss the withdrawal of Rely from the market-place. They are supposed to give us details tomorrow (Wednesday) and the next day (Thursday), and we will review their plans," said Wayne Pines, an Fda spokesman.
Pines also said, "The message we are trying to get out is that women should not use Rely tampons because of the evidence associating them with an increased risk of toxic shock. Toxic shcok is not caused by tampons; it is caused by bacteria. But what the tampons do is increase the risk of the person contracting the disease. We do not know exactly why. That is the subject of further research."
The removal of all Rely tampons from the stores may take several weeks, Pines said. "But what we will urge is that retailers take it upon themselves to remove Rely from their shelves even before they get officail notification," he said.
Marjorie Bradford , respresentative of Procter & Gamble, said that Rely tampons were introduced first in 1974 in Fort Wayne, Ind. But it was not until February 1980 that the company completed a national marketing campaign for the product. Besides advertising, Procter & Gamble mailed out free samples of Rely. Bradford said the company tried to reach 70 percent of the households in the Northeast with its mail samples.
She declined to disclose sales figures for Rely. "It has been one of the leading brands and it has been popular with women," she said.
Unsold Rely tampons will be picked up by Procter & Gamble and stored in company warehouse until the company decided if it will suspend sales permanently or resume marketing the product, Bradford said. "The suspension will remain in effect until we learn completely about toxic-shock syndrome; a decision will be made at that point about whether to resume sales," she said. a
Consumers who have unused Rely tampons can apply to the company for a refund, she said. Requests should be mailed to Procter & Gamble, P.O. Box 85519, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Bradford said consumers should clip the Universal Product Code label from the Rely package and include it in the envelope as proof of purchase.
Of 18 Washington-area stores surveyed yesterday, seven had Rely tampons on their shelves. Three of them were chain stores -- a Grand Union supermarket, a 7-Eleven convenience store and an A&P Food Store.
"Until we get a notice from our Baltimore office, we can't take them off the shelf," said Judy Camper, the book-keeper at the A&P Food Store, 2425 N. Harrison, Arlington.
The Baltimore office said notices were being sent to stores and should arrive today or tomorrow.
The Grand Union store with Rely tampons was at the corner of Glebe Road and Lee Highway in Arlington. The 7-Eleven store checked was at the intersection of Cleveland and Lee Highway, also in Arlington.
Three other stores offering Rely tampons for sale were Schwartz Pharmacy, 1700 Connecticut Ave. NW; Higgers Drugs, 5013 Connecticut Ave. NW; and Conecticut Knowles Pharmacy, 10526 Connecticut Ave., Kensington.