NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced a new effort to sell thousands of ostomy and urinary supplies to schools and other organizations that provide services for women.
The agency will make these supplies available for purchase at no cost to the public, said the agency’s director, Margaret A. Koppel.
The program will be in effect in the next several weeks, Koppell said in a statement.
“As a result, we are working with partners to expand the number of locations that will be able to purchase these materials to allow more women to receive safe and effective care,” she said.
“Women deserve access to safe and reliable medical supplies, and this effort will help ensure that all of our patients are getting the care they need and deserve.”
The agency said it will begin selling products through its new website, www.usda.gov/ocspa, and will continue to do so through its online store, www and in stores.
The government’s ostomy supply program was developed by the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), which advocates for the rights of women and children to choose what kind of health care they want.
The association’s president, Sue L. Richey, said this is the first time a health care program has been launched by the FDA for a population.
The U.A.E. Health and Hospitals Access to Primary Health Care program, which provides health care for low-income people, has been in place for nearly five years.
“This is an important milestone in our effort to provide safe, quality, and affordable health care to the millions of women, men, and children who need it,” said Richeys spokeswoman Katie Miller.
“We are thrilled that this program is opening up to our community and the broader community and looking forward to continuing to work with other providers on the program,” Miller said.
In August, the NASN and the FDA announced a $7.4 million program to provide women with the supplies to help them have more control over their health care decisions.
The two agencies are partnering on the ostomy program.
The agency said the program will provide access to products to schools, hospitals, and other health care organizations.
Koppel said the FDA will purchase a portion of the materials from a consortium of companies, which will be sold through a consortium called the National Medical Supply Consortium.
The companies will have the opportunity to buy the supplies at a discount to the price the FDA charges.
“In addition to being a cost-effective way to bring this important product to our members, this program also allows us to better understand what patients need and will be eligible for,” Kopple said.
“We have to make sure that we can find the resources that we need for women to have access to this.”
The program is expected to reach a total of 15,000 schools and clinics by the end of the year.
Koffel said that the FDA is working with the companies and the schools to determine how many schools will be included.
“All the schools that participate in this initiative are fully compliant with all of the standards that we have established,” she added.
The FDA also said it is looking to expand this program beyond schools and into health care facilities.
The new program will help provide more than 1.3 million women and men with access to high-quality, affordable health and wellness care.
It will also help reduce unnecessary health care costs by providing access to health care at home, in a medical setting, and to care for a loved one.
More than 7 billion Americans have an annual income of $75,000 or less, and women are more likely to live in poverty than men.