An American start-up company, MicroCHIPS, has just developed a subcutaneous contraceptive microchip. The technology was developed in the 1990s by an engineer – Professor Robert Langer. In 2012, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, suggested applying the technology to the field of contraception. He invested 4.5 million dollars in the project.
The microchip: the device is a square measuring 2 cm by 2 cm, and 7 millimetres thick. The microchip can be implanted in the arm, abdomen or buttocks and “delivers 30 micrograms of levonorgestrel* per day, i.e. as much as the micropill“. With sufficient capacity for 16 years, it is “connected to a reservoir 1.5 cm wide that is covered by a titanium and platinum seal“. Doctors could “adjust doses of progesterone hormones by remote control” and the device can be stopped at any time by the patient.
Clinical trials are still needed in order to assess the safety and efficacy of the device with pre-clinical trials scheduled in 2015. The aim is to launch the product on the American market in 2018.
* N.B. Gènéthique: Levonorgestrel is the main active substance in the “morning after” pill, which has a basic contraceptive effect (preventing fertilisation) as well as an abortive effect (by preventing implantation).