Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) said yesterday that it inked a multi-year extension of its collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation to improve access to the company’s injectable contraceptive, Sayana Press, for women in developing countries.
The pharma giant’s product uses Becton Dickinson‘s (NYSE:BDX) Uniject delivery system to administer a long-acting, reversible contraceptive. The prefilled, single-use system does not require a patient to prepare a needle and syringe, and it can be administered by a health worker outside of a clinical setting. Previously, it was sold to purchasers at $1.00 per dose. According to the new agreement, Sayana Press will be available to qualified purchases at 85¢ per dose.
A consortium of public and private sector organizations 1st joined forces in 2014 to better understand demand for Pfizer’s contraceptive. Pilot studies conducted in Niger, Senegal and Uganda showed that there was strong demand for Sayana Press among young women – 34% of doses administered in these countries were to women ranging from 20 to 24 years old.
Pfizer also reported that 24-42% of doses given across the pilot studies were administered to women who had never before used contraceptives.
“Our hope is that more women in the developing world will now have access to Sayana Press, as an option, to meet their specific family planning needs,” president of Pfizer’s essential health biz, John Young, said in prepared remarks. “We have seen the impact of our work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and other collaborating organizations, and look forward to our continued efforts to enable wider availability of Sayana Press. By improving access to contraceptive options, we can help empower women most in need to better plan their families.”
“BD is honored to join Pfizer, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and CIFF in empowering women to manage such an important aspect of their lives,” BD’s president of global health Renuka Gadde added. “We commend their efforts to scale the program so that women in all parts of the world can be offered the choice to plan and space their families.”
Nearly 225 million women in developing countries would like to prevent or delay pregnancy but are not using contraceptives, according to Pfizer. Women in these countries may face difficulties getting to health facilities and they may not know what contraceptive methods are available to them. Sayana Press can be administered in low-resource, non-clinical settings and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, which Pfizer said could help broaden access for women in under-served communities.
Each subcutaneous injection using BD’s Uniject system prevents ovulation and provides contraception for 13 weeks, +/- 1 week. The contraceptive is approved in 40 countries across the E.U., in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Niger and more. It is not approved for use in the U.S.
“Contraceptives are highly cost-effective health investments which save lives. If every girl and woman who wanted to use modern contraception was able to, we could prevent 170,000 maternal deaths and around 1.6 million newborn deaths each year. The sub-cutaneous injectable contraceptive is an important innovation, which can reach new and younger users who often face high barriers to accessing comprehensive choices. Increasing access and choice of affordable contraceptives are crucial parts of this important collaboration,” CIFF executive director Alvaro Bermejo said.
The consortium helps to procure, introduce and deliver a range of contraceptive options to women in the world’s poorest countries, according to Pfizer. In each country, the group works with local governments to incorporate modern contraceptives into reproductive health plans and budgets. They also coordinate with healthcare professionals to improve counselling and services.
“We know that when women have a range of contraceptive options to time and space their pregnancies, they’re more likely to find one that suits their needs,” president of global development programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Chris Elias, said. “”New innovations in contraceptive technology are needed to expand the number of methods available to women and adolescents so they can take charge of their health and their futures.”