The new male contraceptive is effective, safe and affordable – but no drug company wants to buy it

By Nadim Nyker
06 April 2016

The reason why is shocking.

Sujoy Guha, a 76-year-old biomedical engineer in India, has invented an injectable male contraceptive.

The sperm-zapping product, which has taken years of human trials, is finally ready to be submitted for regulatory approval. The results have shown that the drug is safe, efficient and very easy to use.

And it could cost as little as little as $10 (R137) per dose -- but here's the rub: no pharmaceutical company wants to buy it.

According to reports, drug makers fear it will cut into both the $10 billion market for female contraceptives as well as the $3.2 billion in condom sales.

Read more: SA contraception breakthrough: this could be ‘The Pill’ for men

The market is dominated by pharmaceutical giants Bayer, Pfizer and Merck, who have been trying to stop the progression of the male contraceptive for years.

Regardless of disinterest from pharmaceutical giants, doctors intend to launch the drug, named RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance), over the next two years.

Guha's technique for male contraception works with a polymer gel which is injected into sperm-carrying tubes in the scrotum. The gel acts as a buffer to the sperm cells, rendering them infertile.

The contraceptive is then reversed with a second injection that breaks down the gel, allowing the sperm to reach the penis normally, without the buffer -- and the man will be fertile again.

According to a report done by Pharmion Consultants, India's contraceptive market is expected to grow 17% by 2021, and the drug will be a massive contributor.

This also comes at a time where buying condoms is a major taboo in India, with less than 6% of the population using them.

There are more married women who need family planning and contraception in India than anywhere else in the world, The Independent reports and social stigma, as well as the lack of store privacy, is the reason for low condom use.

The drug could also be a major breakthrough in developing countries, where 225 million women desperately need contraception, according to the World Health Organisation.

Sources: Omaha.com, Bloomberg, Independent, techcrunch 

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