Letter Builds on Senator Hassan’s Work to Hold Corporations Accountable for Unfair Price Increases and Address Shortages
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, today pressed the CEOs of the major U.S. tampon manufacturers - Procter & Gamble, Edgewell Personal Care, and Kimberly-Clark - on public reports of a tampon shortage and reported price gouging. The letter is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing work to address high costs facing families.
Across the country, consumers have noted shortages and price increases while major retailers including CVS, Target, and Walgreens have shared that they have had a limited tampon supply at certain stores.
“Access to menstrual products should be treated like every other essential good. At the beginning of the pandemic, price gouging of essentials like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer was rightly criticized as an exploitation of an emergency for financial gain. Menstrual products should receive that same consideration,” Senator Hassan wrote in the letter.
Senator Hassan’s letter is part of her ongoing efforts to address shortages and high costs. Last month and following Senator Hassan’s push, the Biden Administration invoked the Defense Production Act to address the infant formula shortage. Earlier this year, Senator Hassan led legislation to require a federal investigation into reports that Big Oil was artificially raising gas prices, and follows Senator Hassan’s previous calls for additional actions and updates regarding the FTC’s oversight of anti-consumer trade practices in the oil and gas industry.
A full text of the letter can be found here and below:
I am writing to you today to urge you to take quick action to address the tampon shortage that people are facing across the country. In recent days I have seen troubling reports about low supplies and even empty shelves of tampons – as well as concerning indications that instead of increasing supply, companies have increased tampon prices. Companies like yours that produce tampons must take immediate action to increase the tampon supply and end unnecessary price increases.
Recent public reports of the tampon shortage are very troubling. Due to the lack of official data on this shortage, the only available information comes from anecdotal reports. These stories indicate that people are checking multiple stores, in person and online, to no avail. In a Time article published last week, a journalist shared that she couldn’t find tampons in multiple states. An organization that provides menstrual hygiene products for people experiencing homelessness has received half as many tampon donations as last year, leaving their warehouse nearly empty. A radio reporter in Montana shared that there have been “nearly empty shelves for a few months now, and even big online retailers such as Boxed.com have been out of stock FOR WEEKS.” People are calling friends and family across state lines to see if supply is available elsewhere.
While the tampon shortage is part of a larger supply chain issue, price gouging essential products is an unacceptable response. Tampon prices are up 10 percent from a year ago. In January, the Time reporter saw Amazon sellers listing one box of 18 Tampax for $114, $6 more per tampon than the usual cost. Reports indicate that people are still seeing significant mark-ups months after the shortage began. Companies have increased prices on menstrual hygiene products, in some cases multiple times, since the shortage began. Yet they have also posted significant profits – for example, Procter & Gamble posted its biggest sales gain in decades, and the amount of money made from sales in the feminine care division went up 10 percent.
Access to menstrual products should be treated like every other essential good. At the beginning of the pandemic, price gouging of essentials like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer was rightly criticized as an exploitation of an emergency for financial gain. Menstrual products should receive that same consideration.
Please respond no later than Friday, June 17 with information about how you are planning to increase the supply of tampons as well as justifications for the price increases that we have seen over the past year.