Women in the U.S. spend more than $22 billion per year on contraception. The most popular contraceptive methods available today, however, each have their own drawbacks. Hormonal birth control such as “The Pill” or contraceptive patches are associated with increased risk for blood clots and certain cancers. Condoms can break. Both oral contraceptives and condoms have compliance issues, with patients forgetting or neglecting to use them.
Ovatech of Auburndale, Mass., is developing the world’s first non-hormonal, female-controlled contraception device. The device is similar to NuvaRing, minus the hormones. Called Ovaprene, the device consists of a ring with a soft mesh barrier to prevent sperm from entering. The ring is loaded with two natural ingredients, ascorbic acid and an iron derivative called ferrous gluconate. The woman inserts the ring at the beginning of the month and removes it at the end of the month so she can have her period. In clinical trials, the ring has been proven to be more effective than currently available barrier methods. According to CEO John Williams, Ovaprene can help women who want to take a year off hormonal contraceptives before starting a family. The company is working with Yale and Cornell to initiate a Phase III clinical trial of Ovaprene.
Ovatech’s pipeline also includes a device for yeast infections, a combination contraceptive/protectant against HIV and AIDS, and an insertable ring to treat cervical cancer. In this video, Williams discusses the company’s pipeline at the 2010 OneMedForum in San Francisco.