(Image courtesy of Pixabay)
Each year, there are over 120 million unintended pregnancies experienced around the world, while the global population increases by over 80 million people. This constant human population growth has already translated to multiple significant challenges around the world, and will continue contributing to increased ecological degradation, conflict, climate change, natural disasters, global pandemics, and more. It is a reality that negatively impacts all of us. Consider this: unintended teen pregnancies in the United States are estimated to cost American taxpayers over $9 billion annually.
Increasing access to contraception in order to meet existing unmet needs in low- and middle- income countries alone would lead to a 68% reduction in unintended pregnancies; there are over 200 million women in these contexts actively seeking more and better methods.
When considering men, the birth control situation is even more dire as there are currently only two methods of contraception available to sperm-producers: condoms and vasectomy. Lack of acknowledgement of this inequity and the need for additional male-controlled methods persists despite demonstrated demand for more methods (with an estimated 17 million men in just the United States with unmet family planning needs) and over 60 years of research and development efforts.
Bringing a new drug to market is not easy, and it is very expensive: the estimated median capitalized research and development cost per product is nearly $1 billion. In most situations these costs are incurred by large pharmaceutical companies who then recoup these costs in the pricing of their products. However, most contraceptive products are not developed by pharmaceutical companies, rather the development is heavily subsidized by non-profit and government agencies. Given the layered challenges that contraceptive product development faces, It is imperative that researchers, advocates, and the general public support organizations like Male Contraceptive Initiative if we are to make male contraception a reality.