Researchers at Cardiff University, in Wales, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are working on an innovative microneedle contraceptive patch for use in the developing world. The patch is effective, pain-free, and discreet and is able to be administered in a few seconds. The patches are effective for up to six months and would be a minimally invasive alternative to current contraceptive measures available in the world's poorest countries. Better access to contraceptives would improve the lives of young women by vastly improving their educational and economic opportunities. The project to develop the patch is set to last 18 months and incorporate research and expertise from multiple collaborators and partners.
“Voluntary family planning is something that many of us take for granted but in some of the poorest countries women and girls don’t have this choice,” stated co project lead James Birchall, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
From the Cardiff University article: "Utilising its biodegradable polymer platform, InnoCore Pharmaceuticals will develop microneedles exhibiting the required mechanical properties for effective and painless puncturing of the skin, followed by tightly controlled contraception delivery for up to six months. 'We are very excited to contribute to the development of innovative and affordable contraceptives for women in developing countries by partnering with this great research consortium, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,' says InnoCore Pharmaceuticals.
Currently, two of the most popular methods of contraception in low and middle-income countries are injections – which are effective for three months – and implants, which last for three years. Both of these methods are invasive and in the case of the implant, requires a skilled professional for insertion and removal. This can contribute to women not accessing these forms of contraception. "
Read more about the microneedle contraceptive patch for developing countries at Cardiff University.