Indonesian pill (Gandarusa)
This nonhormonal pill, derived from the plant Justicia gendarussa, could be the first new male contraceptive to market, but with a caveat: just the Indonesian market. But men outside Indonesia will probably be doing whatever they can to get ahold of it.
Antara News reported on August 18, 2013 that research on Gandarusa had been completed by scientists at Airlangga University and the purified plant extract has been handed over to state pharmaceutical company Indofarma for stability testing and securing the production and distribution licenses. The process is expected to take less time because Gandarusa is considered a herbal medicine, and the pill may be available to Indonesians by prescription in 2014.
Research on the contraceptive properties of the Justicia gendarussa plant has been ongoing since 1985. The active ingredient was isolated and chemically synthesized, then manufactured into pill form. The scientist heading up the research, Dr. Bambang Projogo, reported that phase two studies included 120 couples who used the pills daily for 108 days with no pregnancies. Phase three studies were recently concluded in 350 couples taking the pill for 30 days with a reported 99.96% success rate. He intends to conduct a fourth phase of study to reduce the dosage to 15 days per month.
While the Justicia gendarussa plant’s anti-inflammatory properties have been studied extensively, published information is difficult to obtain on its effects on male contraception. Scientists involved in the research report that the active ingredient in Gandarusa disrupts an enzyme in the sperm head, which weakens the ability of the sperm to penetrate the ovum. The effect is short term and reversible – having no effect on male hormones. The scientist even report increased libido in some patients.
Approval for other countries would take longer, depending on how much of the Indonesian research meets those countries’ study protocols. To our knowledge, no Western organizations have teamed up with the Indonesian researchers so far.
We expect that given how long the approvals process would take in other countries, some highly-motivated 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.
August 2013 Antara News story on Gandarusa: Newly Invented Family Planning Pills For Men To Be Produced Soon
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