In Brief

Contraceptives represent a billion dollar market. While
contraceptives for women are readily available, male
contraceptives are hard to find, until now. Sujoy Guha has
developed a cheap, fast, and 98% effective contraceptive for men.

The Cost of Contraceptives

The contraceptive market is growing with no foreseeable
end in sight. In fact, a 2015 survey of nine countries
measured the total revenue of contraceptives at around $19 billion with a
projected growth of 6 percent over the next few years.

When those profits are analysed, there is a clear distinction
in contraceptive methods by comfort, cost, and sex. While 52
percent of contraceptive-device revenues (excluding the pill)
come from condom use, the rest comes from female
contraceptives that are known to be accompanied by side-effects and
higher costs. But this paradigm may be about to shift with
the introduction of a new male contraceptive medication.

In many developed countries it is women who bear most of the
responsibility for using contraceptives and braving their side effects, which can
include nausea, weight gain, and mood
changes. In 2015,
data suggested that 60 percent of women
in spousal
relationships used oral contraceptives while only 8 percent
of male partners in spousal relationships relied on condoms.
And while it does seem that social stigmas initially
perpetuated this gender role, it actually may be the
current economic pressures
 surrounding female
contraceptives that is stagnating efforts to investigate a
potential male contraceptive. That was until Sujoy Guha, a
76-year-old biomedical engineer from a startup in India, did
it himself.

But Business Isn’t Booming

Over the past 30 years, Guha has developed a method that is
fast, safe, and 98 percent effective — paralleling the
effective rate of condoms — while requiring just a
single shot.

The shot contains a positively-charged polymer gel that can
be injected into vessels in the scrotum that carry
negatively-charged sperm. The positive charge acts as a
buffer that hinders the sperm’s components, rendering the
reproductive cells infertile. The method is also reversible,
 allowing Guha to dub it as Reversible Inhibition of
Sperm Under Guidance (RISUG). A second shot directed at the
already-injected polymer would break down the gel and allow
the sperm to fulfill its destiny. If that’s not enough, the
whole procedure could cost as little as $10 in
developing countries.

To Guha’s dismay, however, pharmaceutical companies have been
reluctant to invest in his male contraceptive. While he
believes the actions are
rooted in sexism
, pharmaceutical companies might be
off-put by the long-term investment required for such an
endeavor, which could burn through $100 millions in funds
over the course of 10 years. Although
Parsemus Foundation
, a non-profit in the U.S., has paid
Guha to license RISUG in markets outside of India as
Vasalgel
.

When tested on Rhesus Monkeys for a
period of two years , Vasalgel proved to be an effective
contraceptive, and it is now in human trials. RISUG, which is
at end of phase III of its clinical trials in India, is
reportedly 98 percent effective after analyzing data from 282
volunteers. RISUG will enter the Indian market in two years.

This advancement may change the lives of the 225 million women in the developing world
who have limited access to contraceptives while breaking
new boundaries in global socioeconomic progress.


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