Foundations: Making contraceptives available
For more than half a century, the Population Council has pursued the objective of giving people the means to choose whether and when to have children by meeting their needs for contraception. One of the ways of achieving this goal in which the Council has been uniquely successful is developing long-lasting, reversible contraceptives and making them available to women throughout the world who want and need them.
In fact, three of the four long-acting, reversible contraceptives for women available today were developed by the Council at its Center for Biomedical Research: the Copper T intrauterine device; the Norplant® subdermal implant system and its successor, Jadelle®; and Mirena®, the levonorgestrel hormone-releasing intrauterine system (IUS). More than 120 million women worldwide have relied on these products for family planning.
The Council aims to provide access to these contraceptives to all—rich and poor, in developed and developing countries. In licensing these products to pharmaceutical companies for manufacturing and marketing, the Council always includes provisions for access to the products at reduced prices by public-sector organizations that make them available to the poor. A special public-sector price may be established, below the market price but above cost, or a charitable foundation may be created to donate the product. The following foundations are among those that have been established to satisfy this requirement.
The International Contraceptive Access (ICA) Foundation (offsite link) was established in December 2003 as a collaboration between Bayer Schering Pharma AG, a global pharmaceutical company, and the Population Council. The objective of this collaboration is to provide contraceptive products to developing countries and to serve the reproductive needs of women and families in resource-poor settings. The ICA Foundation donates specially packaged levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine systems (LNG IUS) to international development agencies and public health organizations (both government and nongovernmental affiliates) who then offer the LNG IUS at reduced or no cost to poor women and families. The foundation is governed by an international board of trustees representing public-sector agencies and the international donor community as well as the Population Council and Bayer Schering Pharma.
As of January 2012, donations have been provided to organizations in 15 countries, and the foundation continues to create new programs and partnerships.
The ARCH Foundation
Under its Mirena contract, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals (which is responsible for sales of Mirena within the United States), established the not-for-profit ARCH Foundation (offsite link) to assist low-income women in the United States who do not have insurance coverage for the Mirena IUS. For those who meet the eligibility criteria, the foundation provides Mirena free of charge. Assistance may also be available for qualified patients who require removal of Mirena. The ARCH Foundation has been in operation since 2002, is governed by a board of trustees that includes several eminent practitioners and researchers in the reproductive health field as well as representatives of the Population Council and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, and has served the needs of more than 65,000 women since inception.
The Contraception Foundation
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals established the Contraception Foundation (formerly the Norplant Foundation) under the terms of its agreement with the Population Council to market Norplant in the United States. The foundation’s mission was to improve the health and lives of women in the United States through the support of education, health services, and family planning. The foundation, which operated until early 2006, was governed by a board that included eminent reproductive health practitioners and researchers as well as representatives of public-sector agencies and the Council. The decision to end the foundation's operations resulted from the withdrawal of the product by its marketer.
In addition to its Norplant System (levonorgestrel implants) Removal Program, from 2003 to 2005 the foundation donated more than 2 million cycles of Alesse® (0.1 mg levonorgestrel/20 mcg ethinyl estradiol tablets) oral contraceptive clinic packs to a network of nonprofit agencies and clinics that distributed Alesse.