More than 200 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for contraception. Contraceptive implants, which are inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm, are a safe and highly effective family planning method and provide continuous protection from pregnancy for 3-5 years, depending on the type of implant. This makes them ideal for women with limited access to health care services because they do not require regular resupply from a provider. Although implants are popular in developing countries, their high cost has been a major barrier.
The Sino-implant (II) initiative, which is led by FHI 360 with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been at the forefront of helping to reduce the cost of implants in resource-constrained settings. Manufactured by Shanghai Dahua Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Dahua), Sino-implant (II) is a low-cost, highly effective implant currently labeled for four years of use and available for approximately $8 per unit. It is marketed in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America under various trade names including Zarin, Femplant, Trust, and Simplant. Under the project, FHI 360 has successfully negotiated public sector price-ceiling agreements with distributors; completed five years of independent quality testing of the product; worked with distributors to secure 22 national regulatory approvals; provided technical assistance to Dahua to apply for World Health Organization prequalification; led post-marketing studies; and provided technical assistance for product introduction at the country level.
More than 870,000 units of Sino-implant (II) have been distributed so far in countries included in the initiative. This translates into a commodity cost savings of US $10.4 million when compared to the alternative of buying similar, more expensive implants. In addition, according to the Marie Stopes International Impact Calculator, the units of Sino-implant (II) distributed translate into the prevention of 1.2 million unintended pregnancies, 150,000 abortions and almost 3,500 maternal deaths.