Monthly contraceptive patch could replace the pill – an end to the burden of taking a daily tablet for millions of women
- Patch injects contraceptives via micro needles and the effect lasts for a month
- 90% of women said they preferred daily pill in the latest placebo patch trial
- Scientists have successfully tested drugs on mice and are on their way to human trials
A contraceptive patch covered with small needles could remind millions of women to use the pill every day.
Nine out of ten women who used the device that sticks to the skin said they would rather use it than a daily tablet.
Scientists, however, only gave the women a placebo patch – and not one that contained a real contraceptive.
Tests from the same device, the size of a 50 cent piece – or a quarter in the US, have shown that it increased the levels of hormones needed to prevent pregnancy in mice.
In theory the levonorgestrel patch slowly releases into the blood for 30 days and is replaced every month.
It differs from existing forms of birth control plasters in that it uses small needles to dissolve the drug in the bloodstream.
Scientists have made a patch that sticks to the skin and slowly releases a contraceptive into women's bloodstream for 30 days
The device, the size of a piece of 50 cents, plants small micro needles under the skin where they are slowly biodegradable and release the contraceptive.
It plants small, biodegradable micro needles under the skin that take effect after just five seconds to release the contraceptive and is the first of its kind to work in this way.
Georgia Institute of Technology scientists found the needles safely dissolved in their trials with mice, it was unveiled in January.
But academics are one step closer to marketing after positive feedback from women as part of their latest research.
None of the 10 women involved in the study found that they had problems applying the patch to their skin.
The findings, which bring the device a step closer to human testing, were published in the journal Science Advances.
The researchers, including Mark Prausnitz, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, say the method can be a game changer for women who are sick from taking the pill daily.
Figures suggest that around three million British women take the pill. While in the US it is estimated that 11 million depend on the method of birth control.
Many women do not take the contraceptive pill at the right time every day, which considerably reduces its effectiveness.
As a result, long-acting contraceptives such as the implant are more often approved by gynecologists. There is a smaller margin of error.
Professor Prausnitz said: “To get into the body unless you swallow a pill and have absorption of the GI channel that is released quickly, you usually use a needle or minor surgery.
& # 39; But many people do not take (the pill) at the right time every day, and in developing countries health care providers are not always accessible.
Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology (pictured) have been trying on mice for more than a year
& # 39; The idea is to scale the needle down and recognize that the skin surface is thinner than the width of a hair. & # 39;
Rachel Skinner, a professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Sydney, who was not involved in the study, said: & Microneedle patches are an exciting and promising way to improve access to commonly used and important drugs usually administered with a needle or tablet.
& # 39; If this technology is shown to work in humans, it may improve access to effective contraception, due to its ease of use.
& # 39; This is especially important for young women and women in low-income countries where costs and access to services pose a challenge to access to contraception. & # 39;
National shortage of birth control pills can lead to a wave of unplanned pregnancies, warn experts
Experts have warned that a national shortage of birth control pills can lead to a wave of unplanned pregnancies.
Women struggle to get hold of various common birth control pills, such as Lestrin and Cilest.
Leading brands have confirmed that there are problems in the production process – but have indicated little when this will be resolved.
Experts have shown that the lack of supply has become increasingly worse in recent months and described it as a & # 39; very worrying & # 39 ;.
GPs are advised to offer an alternative medicine, but this can cause side effects and has meant that women have to make more appointments.
The inadequate supply of contraception is due to a shortage of HRT drugs – to treat menopause symptoms – which reached a crisis point last week.
About 3.1 million British women use a contraceptive pill.
Loestrin has been out of stock since June and there is & # 39; no expected delivery date & # 39 ;, says Galen, who delivers it.
Cilest, supplied by Janssen, was released in July at & # 39; commercial & # 39; reasons stopped.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard of the Royal College of GPs: & # 39; The shortage of oral contraceptives has increased considerably in recent months.
& # 39; This is very worrying for both general practitioners and patients … It is not entirely clear why we currently have deficits.
& # 39; It seems that there are several factors – and we do not know how long the shortages will last. & # 39;
She added that it adds for general practitioners, & # 39; because searching for suitable alternatives is very time-consuming & # 39 ;.
& # 39; It is also very inconvenient and can be painful for patients if they do not receive the treatments they are used to, & # 39; said Professor Stokes-Lampard.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said that if women cannot get their pill, this can lead to an increase in pregnancies.
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