Gates Foundation bankrolls development of refillable long-acting contraceptive implant

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is bankrolling Celanese’s work to develop a refillable long-acting implant for delivery of a contraceptive drug, committing $625,800 to support the creation of a functional prototype.

Celanese’s technology portfolio includes an ethylene vinyl acetate pharmaceutical grade copolymer, branded VitalDose, that enables drug-eluting implants such as intravaginal inserts. The copolymer has broad solubility characteristics for small molecules and the combination of multiple grades into a single device can achieve specific drug release profiles.

The Gates Foundation sees potential for the technology to advance its efforts to give women access to contraceptive options that meet their needs, leading it to back Celanese’s 18-month prototype project.

“We have a long history working in the area of women’s health and are honored by the trust placed in our team through this grant from the Gates Foundation,” Laura Brand, VP of the Celanese medical and pharmaceutical business, said in a statement. “The project concept is based on our VitalDose drug delivery platform, a controlled release technology with decades of commercial use in the U.S. and Europe.” 

Celanese sees the development of a refillable contraceptive implant as beneficial to women in low- and middle-income countries who either lack access to modern contraceptives or need more flexibility and control of contraception.

The grant is the latest in a series of funding agreements by the Gates Foundation that are focused on improving the delivery of contraceptives. Earlier grants include the funding of DelSiTech’s work on long-acting contraceptives and Particle Sciences’ development of novel technologies.