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Contraceptive Injection for Men

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From: C-reuters@clari.net (Reuter / Paul Majendie)
Subject: New male contraceptive as good as pill - doctors
Organization: Copyright 1996 by Reuters
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 7:30:34 PST
LONDON (Reuter) - A contraceptive injection for men has proved to be as effective as birth control pills for women, scientists said Tuesday after worldwide trials.

The new contraceptive, a weekly injection tested on 400 men, was hailed as a major breakthrough. Doctors are now working on a daily pill version that could be taken in combination with less frequent injections.

``It is very significant. It is really for the first time showing the world that permanent contraception for men really works,'' said Dr. Fred Wu of Manchester University in central England, one of 15 international centers to test it.

The contraceptive secretes the male hormone testosterone into the body to reduce the sperm count to negligible levels.

The World Health Organization said the new method was as effective as the female pill in preventing pregnancy. Side-effects are minimal and Wu said it worked better than a condom.

Initial tests showed the sperm counts in 60 percent of men could be reduced to zero by weekly testosterone injections. Later trials showed it could be effective in a further 38.6 percent of men.

``The importance of a new male contraceptive which is reversible is to increase the options for men so that they can play a more active role in family planning,'' Wu said.

Asked if the researchers were effectively removing a barrier to disease, Wu told BBC Radio: ``What we are trying to do is to provide couples in stable relationships with a form of contraception which does not interfere with the sexual act.''

The contraceptive was initially administered by a weekly injection into the buttocks.

``We are now well on the way to testing more practical formulations which can achieve the same target,'' Wu said.

``For example we are using a daily pill which is combined with long-acting injections three or four times a year as well as skin patches and implants,'' he added.

But he warned against undue optimism, saying it could take up to eight years before a better technique of administering the drug is perfected.

``It now depends on whether the drug companies think they can produce it profitably in the long term,'' Wu said.

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