Invented by an Indian biomedical engineer Sujoy Guha, the world’s first male birth control injection will launch soon. But the main question arises is that will this male contraceptive work? After years of trials, this drug ‘RISUG’ was created which is a preloaded syringe shot into the tubes carrying sperm from testicle of the penis, under local anesthesia and is a non-hormonal, long-acting contraceptive. Researchers claim it will be effective for 13 years. Similar to the other non-barrier methods for birth control, this male contraceptive injection wouldn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. Some scientists are of the opinion that Risug really is a replacement for surgical vasectomies, something which the Indian researchers do not entirely deny.
“This will be a world-class male contraceptive injection. It is safe and effective and lasts for a long time. We expect it will be cleared for production in the very near future,” says RS Sharma, a reproductive biologist at the Delhi-based Indian Council of Medical Research and the drug’s lead researcher. But there are some questions over whether this is truly a reversible contraceptive.
Dr. Guha concurred. “We are not going to claim reversibility presently, although I am confident that we will be after human trials. For the moment, the drug will be positioned as an improvement on vasectomy. It will cause less trauma to men, and there will be no surgical incision.”
A clinical trial was conducted to test whether this injection really works or not. Some 139 married men, under the age of 41 and having at least two children, were given a single shot of the injection and monitored for six months. The wives of 133 of the men did not get pregnant after unprotected sex. The drug’s failure to work for six of the men was blamed on “leakage” from the syringe, or the sperm-carrying tubes suffering punctures, according to the results.
But for some researcher, Stephanie Page, professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, believes that the number of volunteers (139) was limited and the follow-up period (six months) was “not long by most standards”.Indian researchers claim that Risug has conducted three rounds of human clinical trials-involving more than 500 volunteers since the early 1990s-in the country providing best practices and measuring toxicity. Two dozen trials of the medication are quoted over three decades to demonstrate its success in preventing pregnancy.
The injection will be affordable and a reliable lasting means to avoid pregnancies. They say the volunteers didn’t report any loss of libido or drastic side effects.
Dr. Guha has licensed the drug to a non-profit Berkeley-based Parsemus Foundation to introduce it in the United States and a similar contraceptive named Vasalgel is still on pre-clinical pathways.