SIDEBAR: Mired in Politics: Emergency Contraceptives And Abortifacients

Carl Djerassi
LITTLE PROGRESS NOTED: "Why should a pharmaceutical company take these risks?" asks pioneer Carl Djerassi.
Although the molecular biology revolution is in full swing and potential new products abound, basic methods of birth control have changed little in the 36 years since the contraceptive pill was introduced. Indeed, some scientists believe that political and economic pressures will keep most contraceptive advances -- even those now available in Europe -- from ever reaching the United States market.

The introduction of the pill was a major milestone in contraceptive research, writes Carl Djerassi in his book From the Lab Into the World: A Pill for People, Pets, and Bugs (Washington, D.C., American Chemical Society, 1994). Djerassi synthesized norethindrone, the first progestational oral contraceptive, while working for Syntex S.A. in Mexico City in the early 1950s.

"The only new developments have been chemically minor...

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