In a blog post for FHI 360’s Contraceptive Technology Innovation Exchange, the Council’s Saumya RamaRao, senior associate, and Loreley Villamide-Herrera, biomedical program manager, highlight the latest advances in the novel drug delivery platform of vaginal rings.
There are currently 11 vaginal rings in various stages of clinical research, for uses ranging from HIV and STI prevention to contraception. RamaRao and Villamide-Herrera break down: what vaginal rings are; the global health need; benefits to women and health systems; the various uses of rings, what’s in the product pipeline; and how to make rings a reality.
“Vaginal rings also offer important benefits to women who use them and to health systems in complementary ways. Rings are a product under a woman’s own control, offering independence from health care providers and sexual partners. Because the ring is a self-use product, it can be inserted and removed at will once the user has been counseled about the product and learns how to use it. Women are not reliant on health care providers to begin to use the product or discontinue it.
Health systems – particularly in low-resource settings – would also benefit from vaginal rings, which can be provided by all cadres of family planning providers from OB/Gyns to front-line workers, like midwives and even community-based health workers. There is minimal requirement in terms of clinical training or specialized equipment and supplies (as opposed to IUDs or implants), and because most rings do not need refrigerated storage, they can be easily integrated into existing health systems…
…Successes and lessons learned from the first rings to be introduced—Progering and Dapivrine—will be critical in informing the introduction of rings to follow. Often under-funded, this so-called “translational research” is a critical phase when insights from real world application become available–be it consumer and provider experience with the new technology or structural issues, such as market viability. Consistent and coordinated action by all stakeholders and support by donors during the translational research phase are essential. We here at the Population Council join peer organizations around the world in a commitment to translational research to ensure that every woman, everywhere has access to the widest possible range of innovative, high-quality contraceptive options.”
Read more at CTI Exchange.