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The contraceptive sponge is returning to the U.S. market.

Allendale Pharmaceuticals said Friday the Food and Drug Administration has approved U.S. sales of the Today Sponge, the favorite nonprescription birth control product of women when it was withdrawn from the market in 1995.

"The product was found to be safe and effective," FDA spokeswoman Susan Cruzan said.

The polyurethane sponges, which have been sold in Canada and over the Internet since March 2003, will be available in two months on a company Web site and later at retailers.

Allendale bought rights to sell the Today Sponge years ago from American Home Products, which is now Wyeth of Madison. American Home stopped making the sponge rather than upgrade a manufacturing plant where the FDA found deficiencies.

The effectiveness and safety of the product were never questioned, but the new version still required extensive testing before it could receive FDA approval.

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