The Innovation Gap in Contraception
ESC Congress Library. Jeffries S.
May 10, 2018; 208155
Disclosure(s): The Boston Consulting Group, sponsored by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Sean Jeffries
Sean Jeffries
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Sales of pharmaceutical contraception methods are over $7B worldwide annually; however, the level of R&D activity has been low and shrinking for decades.  Many larger biopharma players have scaled back or shuttered their women's health R&D departments due to technical and perceived commercial barriers. The remaining clinical development activity is focused on incremental innovation to existing products that while valuable, fail to address large segments of unmet need. The public sector has advanced an R&D pipeline, but funding levels are insufficient and uncertain year on year. This is a serious concern given the health and economic impact of unintended pregnancies.  Yet, there appears to be a large market for novel contraception technologies and we sought to create a detailed view of the market potential leveraging previous research. The demand for new methods is illustrated by unmet need, difficulties with method adherence and subsequent failures and the continued dissatisfaction with existing options - over 75% of women are activity looking or open to switching methods. Additionally, over 6 million women in the US and Europe do not use contraception due to concerns about side effects. Studies of contraception usage show that there are large populations of women who would consider using or switching to a new method that better suits their needs along with many populations that have no appropriate or acceptable pharmaceutical options (obese women, women with certain medical conditions or risks, men). By modeling the sizes and needs of these populations in detail, we estimate the current potential market for novel contraception technologies for women to be over $15B in the US and Europe. Existing commercial R&D activity does not reflect the unmet user and medical need or the commercial opportunity, due to multiple factors. Companies looking to develop new contraception methods face a number of barriers to radical innovation in this space including high safety requirements, large costly clinical trials and limited basic and translational research coming out of academia. The reproductive health community needs a coordinated approach to resolving barriers to R&D, clarifying the market potential for new technologies and fostering the translational research that could be brought to the clinic. There is great promise to improve the health outcomes globally of women and families throughout the world by fostering sustained R&D across academia and industry.
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