Experimental Birth Control Patch May Cost Just $1

A team at Georgia Tech has created a self-administered contraceptive patch with microneedles that slowly release a month’s worth of birth control.

Microneedle Contraceptive Patch / Image: Christopher Moore
Microneedle Contraceptive Patch / Image: Christopher Moore

Did you know that 40% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned? The reason could have something to do with the tediousness of compliance, whether it’s remembering to take a pill every day, or always use condoms. Intrauterine devices are more reliable for long-acting methods of birth control, but they can be expensive and require a doctor’s visit. A recent NBC News article discussed an experimental long-acting contraceptive option that may cost as little as $1 per dose.

The device, developed at Georgia Tech, is a microneedle skin patch that women can administer themselves. The microneedles implant into the wearer’s skin and slowly dissolve over time, releasing hormones that prevent pregnancy. In tests on rats, the patches delivered a month’s worth of hormone-based birth control without fluctuations in absorption. It still needs to be tested on humans, but the team behind it says that the patch could be formulated to deliver hormones for as long as six months or as short as a week.

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