Cutting edge contraception

Basic research zeroes in on sperm and egg development

Tom Hollon(thollon@starpower.net)
Jul 17, 2003

We have The Pill. Do we really need new contraceptives? Yes, said Allan Rosenfield, dean of the School of Public Health at Columbia University, as he introduced an international symposium to survey New Frontiers in Contraceptive Research, held July 15–16 in Washington, D.C.

In a world where 40 to 60% of pregnancies are estimated to be unwanted, where as many as 200 million women worldwide have unmet needs for contraceptives, and where men have only condoms and vasectomy, there is an emphatic need for new approaches to contraception. Yet R&D in the pharmaceutical industry "lost its energy" years ago, Rosenfield lamented.

Most drug companies abandoned R&D completely as more than 50 oral contraceptive brands saturated the market. Worry about liability lawsuits if new contraceptives have side effects continues to hinder research, as does the desire to avoid the politics of abortion symbolized by the post-coitus pill RU486 (mifepristone)....

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