Almac snags $200K Gates grant to reduce contraceptive costs

Packs of birth control pills
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given Almac a $200,000 grant for a project focused on reducing the costs of ingredients for contraceptives as part of an effort to make birth control more affordable for women in developing countries. (Getty/Areeya_Ann)

Almac, a U.K.-based CDMO, snagged a $200,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support a project aimed at reducing the costs of ingredients used to manufacture contraceptives.

The specific effort of the project is to make birth control affordable for women in developing countries by focusing on Etonorgestrel, which is normally delivered through an implant, the BBC reported.

With the help of the grant, Almac hopes to reduce the cost of the ingredients from about $200,000 per kilogram to about $5,000 per kilogram. The project is estimated to cost about $1 million, with $200,000 coming from the Gates family.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in deploying Almac’s biocatalysis expertise to make essential medicines more affordable for humanity,” Dr. Stefan Mix, the head of biocatalysis at Almac, told the news agency. 

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The first stage of the project is expected to begin next month, with three dedicated scientists working on a proof-of-concept stage that's likely to last three months. Almac said it expects the size of the team to expand over the next two years.

Etonorgestrel is a very potent API that is currently produced using older and more expensive manufacturing methodologies. The Almac team will be working on developing a novel biocatalytic method for producing it and Levonorgestrel.