Research ArticleHEALTH AND MEDICINE

Long-acting reversible contraception by effervescent microneedle patch

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Science Advances  06 Nov 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 11, eaaw8145
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw8145

Abstract

To increase access to long-acting contraception, we developed a reversible contraceptive microneedle patch that is simple-to-administer, slowly releases contraceptive hormone (levonorgestrel) for >1 month, and generates no biohazardous sharps waste. After manually pressing the patch to skin for 1 min, microneedles rapidly separate from the patch within the skin due to effervescence triggered by contact with skin’s interstitial fluid, as demonstrated in rats and human participants. Long-acting contraception is achieved by formulating microneedles with a biodegradable polymer [poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid] that slowly releases levonorgestrel for ~1 month in vitro. In rats, the patch maintained levonorgestrel concentration above the human contraceptive threshold level for >1 month, and a placebo microneedle patch was well-tolerated in human participants. Women of reproductive age in three continents demonstrated interest in and preference for long-acting contraception by microneedle patch. These studies indicate that an effervescent microneedle patch could facilitate greater access to long-acting contraception.

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