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Development of a biodegradable contraceptive implant

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
2013 - 2016

Despite the availability and use of a variety of contraceptive methods, unmet need for family planning remains high. Contraceptive implants — including two-rod implants (Jadelle and Sino-implant (II)) and one-rod implants (Implanon) — are a highly effective, safe and long-acting family planning method. However, implants must be removed when pregnancy is desired or at the end of their duration of effectiveness (three to five years depending on the product). The need for the removal procedure can be problematic in resource-constrained settings because women may not have access to trained personnel or may not be able to afford the procedure. To overcome this problem, FHI 360 is working to develop a biodegradable contraceptive implant that will help address these service delivery constraints and expand women’s contraceptive options.


A biodegradable contraceptive implant that would not require removal would fill a distinct gap in the current contraceptive method mix. With earlier phase funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development and current support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FHI 360 is working with innovators in the field of novel drug delivery systems to develop a safe, effective, acceptable and affordable biodegradable contraceptive implant system that would allow a contraceptive steroid to be released at a constant rate and have a well-defined period of effectiveness with a short return to fertility. Proof-of-concept testing is under way in partnership with the following groups:

pH Sciences and Gesea — Cholesterol/hormone-fused pellet system that would provide contraceptive protection for 18 months

University of Washington — Combination of microspheres and biodegradable polymer scaffolding to release levonorgestrel for 18 months

Yale University — Novel biodegradable and biocompatible polymer releasing levonorgestrel for 18 months

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