Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Birth control for men

Ever since attending a session on birth control at the CBCA many years ago, I've been frustrated by the extreme lack of options for men to participate in birth control. The choices available could be summed up in two words: Condom, vasectomy. (Three words if you're religious - add "abstinence", an unrealistic option for most people.)

Now there's talk of a male version of 'the pill'. Frankly, the pill (female or male) really bothers me. Messing with the body's chemistry like that (using hormones) has some potentially nasty health side effects. However, for a lot of people, that's a better risk than risking unwanted pregnancy.

The thing is, now there's an apparently safe - and extremely effective - method of birth control for males that has been developed by a doctor in India. It's a single injection that can be set to last for 6-15 years and has had a 0% failure rate in studies conducted over the past couple decades. It's also safely reversible. The only side effect noted in the studies has been short-term swelling at the injection site immediately following the procedure.

But, there's a catch. The evil (yes, I use that word too much, but this case is unquestionably true) pharmaceutical industry doesn't want to bring the procedure to North America. Apparently, the one-time estimated $500 cost per injection is a threat to their expected profits from the potentially thousands of dollars annual cost of a male hormonal birth control pill per user.

Far from advancing the cause of human health, the pharmaceutical industry are showing themselves as, yet again, being solely in favor of creating 'consumer' dependencies regardless of the cost to people and society as a whole.


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