Rapidly rising global population and changing preferences of working couples have made contraception an indispensable choice. “The growing prevalence of unwanted pregnancies across the globe, especially in developed countries such as the U.S., will serve the market as a high impact rendering driver” quoted Transparency Market Research, a U.S. based market research firm. In addition, the research study conducted by the firm valued the overall contraceptive drugs and devices market at USD 16 billion in 2011 and estimated that the market will grow at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2012 to 2018.
Since the inception of modern contraceptives, condoms have been the only choice for men wishing to participate in the process of temporary birth control. Men have limited modern contraceptive options and therefore, have large unmet contraceptive needs. In an attempt to capitalize on the untapped opportunities available on the male contraception frontier, scientists are conducting extensive research and development initiatives to develop a pill that inhibits or lowers sperm production temporarily.
The major challenge to such an invention is the sperm-testis barrier which prohibits larger molecules to enter the site of sperm production. However, researchers at Dana-Farber Labs have developed a new molecule called JQ1 that may be of great assistance in developing male contraceptive pills. The molecule JQ1 functions by targeting a protein – BRDT (a testes specific protein), which plays a vital role in the process of sperm production. In August 2012, this molecule was tested on mice and rendered successful results in terms of temporarily reducing sperm counts in mice undergoing treatment. The testes of mice under treatment shrunk and their sperms became less mobile. Moreover, on discontinuing the treatment they were able to procreate again. Spermatech has initiated pre-clinical research programs on developing male contraceptive pills and is currently working on the optimization of the target molecule.
Researchers and manufacturers believe that the commercialization of a male contraceptive drugs will change the industry dynamics of the overall contraceptives market and will drive the future of the global contraceptives market by curbing unwanted pregnancies especially in developed economies such as the U.S. The presence of a strong pipeline in the female contraceptive frontier will also help secure the future growth of the market. Some of the notable products currently in pipeline include AG200 – 15 Topical Contraceptive Patch by Agile Therapeutics and FC Patch Low (a transdermal contraceptive patch) by Bayer HealthCare.