By: Compliments of Bloomgerg
Doctors are on the cusp of launching the first new male contraceptive in more than a century. But rather than a Big Pharma lab, the breakthrough is emerging from a university startup in the heart of rural India.
Years of human trials on the injectable, sperm-zapping product are coming to an end, and researchers are preparing to submit it for regulatory approval. Results so far show it’s safe, effective and easy to use-but gaining little traction with drugmakers. That’s frustrating its inventor, who says his technique could play a crucial role in condom-averse populations.
A new birth control method for men has the potential to win as much as half the $10 billion market for female contraceptives worldwide and cut into the $3.2 billion of annual condom sales, businesses dominated by pharmaceutical giants Bayer AG, Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co., according to estimates from the last major drug company to explore the area. India’s reversible procedure could cost as little as $10 in poor countries, and may provide males with years-long fertility control, overcoming compliance problems and avoiding ongoing costs associated with condoms and the female birth-control pill, which is usually taken daily.
It could also ease the burden on the 225 million women in developing countries, who the World Health Organization says have an unmet need for contraception. Yet so far only a U.S. non-profit has taken up development of the technology abroad.
For Sujoy Guha, 76, the biomedical engineer who invented the product, the challenge is to find a company that wants to sell it. But male contraception is an area Big Pharma has so far shown little interest in.