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The BBC's James Cook
"This is only the first in a series of clinical trials"
 real 28k

Dr George Rae, British Medical Association
"This would be welcome for people in stable relationships"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 July, 2000, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
'100% success' for male pill trial
The male pill could be available within five years
The male pill could be available within five years
Edinburgh University scientists say the first clinical trials of a male contraceptive pill suggest it is 100% effective, with no harmful consequences.

Further trials are continuing in Africa but the researchers believe the male pill could be on the market within five years.

It potentially will be very helpful

Dr George Rae, British Medical Association

The contraceptive, developed by Dutch firm Organon, is being tested in Scotland, China, South Africa and Nigeria.

The studies in Edinburgh and in the Chinese city of Shanghai are the first to be completed and the Scottish scientists leading the project say they are delighted with the results.

No sperm

About 30 men at each of the centres took the pill over a period of months.

Edinburgh University's Centre for Reproductive Biology said the sperm count for each of the men dropped to zero.

In addition, none experienced side effects such as acne and high blood pressure which have dogged previous attempts to perfect the male pill.

As far was we're concerned any form of artificial contraception is wrong

Roman Catholic Church in Scotland

The contraceptive works by introducing chemicals which stop the production of sperm into the blood stream.

These are the male sex hormone testosterone and desogestrel, a synthetic steroid found in the female pill.

Until now, the female pill has been the most effect form of contraception.

It was much easier for scientists to develop as women normally only produce one egg per cycle.

However, men produce millions of sperm in each ejaculation.

The new technology has enabled experts to develop a hormone which switches off the production of sperm.

Anne Wayman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association says more choice in methods of contraception is welcome, but this may not suit everyone.

The full results of the trial are expected to be released to the World Conference for Gynaecologists and Obstetricians in Washington in September.

Further trials are taking place and pharmaceutical company Organon is developing the actual pill which it hopes could be available within five years.

A recent study showed that three-quarters of Scottish, Chinese and white South African women thought that men would be prepared to use the method.

Even in the more conservative black and mixed race South African population, 40% agreed their partners would probably use it.

Only 2% said they would not trust their partners to take it.

Dr George Rae, from the British Medical Association, said: "It will give patients choice - sometimes there are contraindications to women taking the contraceptive pill, such as a history of blood clots on the legs, for example.

"It potentially will be very helpful."

But a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland said the pill would have disastrous consequences for society.

He said: "As far was we're concerned any form of artificial contraception is wrong - a male pill would be as wrong as a female pill.

"In 1968 when Pope Paul VI issued his decision on the morality of contraception he condemned the advent of the female pill.

"Over 32 years have passed since that and he predicted if this, what he called contraceptive morality, took hold there will be a whole number of unfortunate consequences - like people having a more relaxed attitude to abortion and marriage, increased divorce and a larger number of unplanned pregnancies.

"All of these have come true and 32 years on we are reaping the fruits of that mentality.

"The advent of the male pill will be another step in that direction."

The findings were published in Human Reproduction, the journal of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

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See also:

23 Feb 00 | Health
Most men 'would take the pill'
05 Jan 00 | Health
Male pill moves closer
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A short history of the pill
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