Development of a Longer-acting Injectable Contraceptive
Over 35 million women worldwide use injectable contraceptives. Use is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than one-third of contraceptive users choose injectables. However, despite their popularity, discontinuation rates are high, often due to missed follow-up appointments. Currently available injectables are effective for 1 to 3 months (depending on the formulation), requiring women to return to their provider 4 to 12 times per year. An injectable that lasts six months would help address this problem, as users would not have to return to the clinic as frequently for re-injections. Longer intervals between injections may lead to higher compliance and continuation rates.
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FHI 360 has launched a project to support early testing of innovative approaches to developing an injectable contraceptive that would last for 6 months. This project is the first step toward bringing a game-changing injectable contraceptive to market, thereby expanding contraceptive access and choice for women around the world.
In 2012, FHI 360 issued a Request for Proposals for proof-of-concept testing of candidates that have the potential to be developed into a longer-acting injectable. Concepts were received from lead drug delivery research groups in the US, Europe, India and China, and represented a wide range of innovative approaches. After a rigorous review by the project team, the Technical Advisory Group for the initiative, and external experts, three proposals were selected to move forward for proof-of-concept testing:
- Technology: poly(lactic) and poly(lactic-co-glycolic) (PLA/PGLA) microspheres releasing levonorgestrel
- Principal Investigator: Dr. Linglin Feng
- Technology: nanostructured porous silicon microparticles releasing a contraceptive steroid
- Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael Sailor
- Technology: biodegradable polymeric gel formulation releasing levonorgestrel
- Principal Investigator: Dr. Tao Lowe
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