The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have partnered with Pfizer to provide financing to a new contraceptive product called the Sayana Press (SP) in order to deliver a new version of Depo-Provera to women in developing nations.
The target global areas are:
• Latin America
• Eastern Europe
Along with the BMGF, other corporations and groups have invested in this project:
• Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)
• United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
• United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID)
• United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
John Young, president of Pfizer, commented : “This is a great example of applying innovation to a Pfizer heritage product to help broaden access to family planning. Pfizer saw an opportunity to address the needs of women living in hard-to-reach areas, and specifically enhanced the product’s technology with public health in mind. I’m so pleased with the leadership from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and other collaborating organizations that are helping create a sustainable market through an approach that could be a model for other medicines.”
SP is “a three-month, progestin-only injectable contraceptive product packaged in the Uniject™ injection system, a small prefilled autodisable device. It contains 104 mg per 0.65 mL dose of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) and is administered via subcutaneous injection.”
Uniject “is little more than a small bubble of plastic attached to a needle. It is precisely filled with a single dose, ensuring that the correct amount of drug is delivered and that none is discarded unnecessarily. It cannot be reused, eliminating the possibility of disease transmission. And it reduces the burden on health systems by combining the vaccine, needle, and syringe into a single unit.”
The new device is “already being used in several African countries” and Pfizer said it will “expand distribution through a financial partnership that would allow the product, which typically costs about $1.50 a dose, to be sold to health care institutions in those countries for about $1.”
Chris Alias, president for global development at the BMGF explained: “The Sayana Press could be an important new choice for the estimated 225 million women worldwide who would like access to contraception but do not have it. Family planning is an important priority for us, and this is expanding the range of methods.”
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator for USAID remarked: “USAID has invested in Sayana Press for many years, and we are thrilled that these efforts have finally come to fruition. This public-private collaboration will now help more women access injectable contraceptives. Expanding contraceptive choice is crucial to helping women plan and space their pregnancies, which we believe contributes to the health and economic wellbeing of families and communities across the globe.”
Depo-Provera is a favorite of Melinda Gates of the BMGF because it enables women to “receive a shot behind [their] husband’s back.”
The injectable Depo-Provera is being sold to under-developed nations and being administered by healthcare workers and nonmedical providers, or by the women themselves.
Policy and training systems are underway to ensure these drugs are utilized in areas like the sub-Saharan Africa. By using these areas as testing grounds for new fertility drugs, as well as forcible sterilization schemes, the BMGF are focusing on preventative situations over dealing with abortable pregnancies which become complicated.