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New Contraceptive Technology Innovation Initiative launched

Development of new, long-acting family planning methods designed to expand choices for women

September 12, 2013

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — FHI 360 announced today that it has been awarded a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support a new Contraceptive Technology Innovation (CTI) Initiative. The primary goal of the CTI Initiative is to develop innovative, long-acting contraceptives to help expand choice and access for women most in need in low-income countries. With a strong emphasis on global partnerships, this comprehensive research and development program will focus on new technologies as well as adaptive products in order to address obstacles that limit use of highly effective family planning methods.

Currently, over 200 million women in developing countries want to avoid or delay pregnancy but are not using a contraceptive. Because long-acting family planning methods do not require regular resupply from a provider or action from users, they are ideal in settings where access to health care services is limited. In addition, existing long-acting methods have better continuation and adherence rates than shorter-acting methods, and most are more cost-effective. In some cases, however, currently available family planning methods are either unaffordable or do not meet women’s needs or preferences.

The CTI Initiative is designed to address these challenges. “We need new, long-acting contraceptive options that will fill existing gaps and increase choices for women,” said Dr. Laneta Dorflinger, director of the new initiative at FHI 360. “In recent decades, there has been limited investment in contraceptive research and development. We applaud the Gates Foundation’s long-term vision, which looks not only to meet the needs of women today through efforts such as FP 2020, but also to ensure that we can meet the needs of women tomorrow by making longer-term investments in innovative product development.”

“Work under the CTI Initiative will build on FHI 360’s experience over four decades of research, development and introduction of new contraceptive methods and complement our broader efforts on sexual and reproductive health,” said Dr. Timothy Mastro, Group Director of Global Health, Population and Nutrition at FHI 360. The product pipeline under the CTI Initiative will bridge multiple stages of research and expand on current work, including ongoing efforts to develop a longer-acting injectable contraceptive and research funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop a new biodegradable contraceptive implant. “We are embarking on a new journey,” said Dorflinger. “Building on earlier work of pioneers in the field, we are excited to move the research forward in areas in which there are still significant gaps.”

A key priority of the CTI Initiative is to strengthen ongoing partnerships, establish new collaborations and seek joint investments to accomplish the goals of the project. Additionally, the CTI Initiative will focus on identifying strategies that can accelerate regulatory approvals of new technologies. The project will also build on the experience of the ongoing Sino-implant (II) initiative, which has helped increase access to affordable contraceptive implants in resource-constrained settings. “New methods must not only fill gaps in the current method mix,” said Dorflinger. “They must also be affordable and accessible to women in the poorest countries.”