This nonhormonal pill, derived from the plant justicia gendarussa, could be the first new male contraceptive to market next year (2013), but with a caveat: just the Indonesian market. But men outside Indonesia will probably be doing whatever they can to get ahold of it.
It has apparently made significant steps: the researchers report that they have not only isolated the active ingredient but have then chemically synthesized it and manufactured it in pill form. Information about this method is hard to get outside Indonesia, even though the plant-based pill is already in clinical trials (being tried by men, with 350 couples planned for the next study). Fortunately, PBS Newshour recently performed a public service by going all the way to Indonesia to do a full story on it. The Male Contraception Information Project helped with background information for this piece in May 2011. The piece gives a firsthand view of development status that would be impossible to get otherwise. Reporter Ray Suarez interviews researchers and policymakers, and they even track down one of the men who has tried it as part of clinical trial.
The researchers are being supported by the Indonesian government, which hopes to have it on the market there next year (2013). Approval for other countries would take longer, depending on how much of the Indonesian research meets those countries’ study protocols. Gandarusa researchers attended the NICHD and Gates Foundation contraceptive development conference in October 2011, presented their latest results, and networked with international policymakers. The researchers are interested in international collaboration, but no Western organizations have teamed up with them so far.
We expect that given how long the approvals process would take in other countries, enterprising men outside Indonesia won’t be waiting and will be finding a way to get the pill from Indonesia (or get themselves to Indonesia) once it is on the market there.
To learn more:
2011 PBS Newshour special on Gandarusa: Indonesian Plant Shows Promise for Male Birth Control
2011/2012 news coverage: Global Post, Elements
Facebook discussion of justicia gendarussa by men trying it or trying to get it