Friday, March 9, 2012

Male Birth Control May Be Around the Corner


The responsibility of birth control has been with women since the pill was introduced in the ‘60s, but now, for the first time, it seems that men may have their turn soon. Researchers at the Center for Research in Reproduction and Contraception (CRRC) at the University of Washington in Seattle seem to be close to coming up with a contraceptive that is practical and safe for men to use, and is reversible. And there will be several options to choose from, either a pill to be taken daily, a patch or gel for applying to the skin, or an implant that is inserted beneath the skin every 12 months.

According to Dr. Andrea Coviello, one of the researchers at the center, how soon these concepts will be realized depends on the continuation of funding. The technology is already known, she says. The pill may be available in five to seven years, but the other methods will probably be here sooner.

The method that may be commercially available the soonest appears to be the sub-skin implant. It consists of a sustained-release micro-capsule containing a thick liquid delivered under the skin by injection and timed to release testosterone over three months.

Elsewhere, the same level of success has also been attained by researchers. In California, Dr. Christina Wang at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (HUMC) confirms that, “An injectible or an implant will be the first to be approved. The big studies are now under way.” Wang and her team have discovered that progestin and androgen implants combined are inexpensive but effective and, of great importance to those taking them, entirely reversible. Wang says their objective is finding the best combination that will have minimum side effects, and the minimum dosage required to achieve the greatest effect. Wang’s team has been testing the different contraceptive methods on hundreds of volunteers in collaboration with researchers in China. Clinical trials are ongoing in China with 1,000 men being tested at 10 different venues. Additionally, Wang says that in some countries, a low-cost form of male birth control may appear on the market over the next three years, but in the US, this will probably take a minimum of five years to earn the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration.

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