November 18, 2019

Recently published in Science Advances, “long-acting reversible contraception by effervescent microneedle patch” describes a new contraceptive patch with biodegradable microneedles that release hormones under the skin.

According to the authors from Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan, including Steven Schwendeman, PhD, Chair and Ara G. Paul Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, their work aims to increase access to long-acting contraception. The authors have 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.

This research was funded by USAID through a grant to the nonprofit humanitarian development organization FHI 360.

Read the full paper: