January 3, 2014 — In the New York Times' "Room for Debate," commentators discuss whether "progress on developing new birth control methods" has stalled and, if so, what could be done "to promote innovation."
The featured commentators include cultural critic Evette Dionne; Lawrence Finer, director of domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute; Elaine Lissner, director of the Male Contraception Information Project and the Parsemus Foundation, which sponsors the development of contraceptives; Amy Ong Tsui, director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health; and Natalie Rechberg, CEO of the natural fertility monitor supplier Valley Electronics.
The commentators largely agree that more could be done to spur development, but some also argue that there is a lack of awareness about currently available contraceptive methods.
For example, Ong Tsui argues that the "stall on new birth control method development is largely because of muted enthusiasm for research and development by first world pharmaceuticals." She writes that "things could change because of growing contraceptive demand from developing world populations," which could help spur "public-private partnerships" between pharmaceutical companies and governments to develop contraceptives.
Finer argues that young women in particular are "underutilizing the options we have now," including long-acting, reversible methods, such as intrauterine devices. "We need to find new, innovative ways to address women's concerns about existing methods so that each woman can choose one that best fits her personal circumstances," Finer said, adding, "But there is no question that existing long-acting reversible methods could play a considerably greater role in our method mix than they do today" ("Room for Debate," New York Times, 1/1).