Forty Years of Contraceptive Development
The International Committee for Contraception Research (ICCR) celebrates its fortieth anniversary in 2010. This network of scientists and clinical investigators was established by the Population Council in 1970 to design new contraceptive technologies and to conduct clinical trials to test the safety, efficacy, and acceptability of Council-developed products.
"There was a need for a public-sector institution for which the bottom line would be to develop improved [contraceptive] methods for the world's diverse population," explained late Council Distinguished Scientist and ICCR founder, Sheldon Segal.
For the past 40 years, the ICCR has contributed to contraceptive development by:
- developing the widely used copper intrauterine device and the levonorgestrel intrauterine system, Mirena®, as well as contraceptive implants for women and the one-year combination Nestorone®/ethinyl estradiol (NES/EE) vaginal ring;
- advancing research on contraceptive methods for men and women; and
- facilitating the approval of mifepristone for medical termination of pregnancy in the United States.
The ICCR strengthens the research capacity of clinical centers in developed and developing countries while facilitating the development of widely acceptable products. One of the primary motives behind creating an international consortium was the pursuit of meaningful scientific and cultural interchanges. In setting up the committee, Segal sought partners from Africa, Asia, and Latin America to ensure that acceptable and affordable family planning methods would be developed where they were needed most. Realizing this goal required building a scientific infrastructure of well-trained professionals and a network of institutions committed to improving the standards and ethics of clinical trials.
ICCR members and their affiliated universities and clinics work closely with staff at the Population Council in the design of new research concepts, delivery systems, prototypes, and clinical protocols for products under development. Committee members are selected for their commitment to reproductive health care, their experience in conducting clinical trials involving contraceptives, and the high quality of their research with a rigorous adherence to ethics at every step of the testing process.
"The ICCR is driven by mission, not by profit," says Council Distinguished Scientist and ICCR committee chair Régine Sitruk-Ware. "Its vision is to be a leader in male and female contraceptive development, bringing novel ideas and new concepts to clinical development, establishing their place within the broader aspects of reproductive and sexual health, and assisting in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
"The UN projects that in 2011 we're going to have seven billion people on this planet. Billions of individuals will want to have the means to regulate their own fertility. Yet given the size of the need, the worldwide investment in making family planning methods safer, more effective, and easier to use is unfortunately still too low."
Current ICCR members are located in Australia, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, India, Japan, Sweden, Scotland, and the United States. Emeriti members who contributed to the ICCR’s pioneering work conducted research in Brazil, Chile, Finland, India, and Sweden.
About the Population Council
The Population Council confronts critical health and development issues—from stopping the spread of HIV to improving reproductive health and ensuring that young people lead full and productive lives. Through biomedical, social science, and public health research in 50 countries, we work with our partners to deliver solutions that lead to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world. Established in 1952 and headquartered in New York, the Council is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization governed by an international board of trustees.
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