SAN DIEGO — If you’re a woman aged 18 to 34, you may have seen a Phexxi ad during a commercial break on Hulu. Or you could have come across the product — a non-hormonal contraceptive gel that women can use within an hour before having sex — while scrolling through Instagram, somewhere between a recipe for Paleo bagels and an ode to body positivity.
Phexxi went on sale in September in the United States, after receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Prescriptions for Phexxi are in the low thousands, according to its publicly traded parent company, Evofem — about 17,280. This is puny compared to the estimated 8.6 million women who have undergone female sterilization or the 6.6 million women on birth control pills.
But Saundra Pelletier, the chief executive officer of Evofem, is hoping to reach a generation that, unlike their foremothers, who were “liberated” by the pill, then schooled to insist on condoms, have grown up with hormones as the default birth control option.
“I think it’s insane that women have not had an option like this before now,” she said in May.
The conference rooms in Evofem’s offices are all named after women who left a mark on the world: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie. A stylized Joan of Arc, in hot pink, looms on a screen in the “war room.” In the cafeteria, “feminism” is written on a plaque, along with a definition of the word.
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