Second Male Birth Control Pill Passes Safety Tests

Seth Augenstein
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A new male birth control pill is safe and could be available in about a decade, according to new findings by a research team.

The same research team that presented its safety findings of a first birth control pill for men at last year’s ENDO, the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago, presented separate findings for the second pill this week at the ENDO 2019 in New Orleans.

The new oral contraceptive is called 11-beta-methyl-19-nortestosterone dodecylcarbonate, or 11-beta-MNTDC for short.

The modified testosterone combines the effects of an androgen and a progesterone, so it “combines two hormonal activities in one”—thus decreasing sperm production while preserving libido.

The 40 patients were split into different groups. Ten received a placebo, 14 received 200 mg of the treatment, and 16 received a 400 mg dose. The patients were administered the study at the Los Angeles BioMed Research Institute, and the University of Washington in Seattle.

The results showed average circulating testosterone level dropped to the level of someone having an androgen deficiency, but with fewer side effects. (Mild symptoms triggered by the treatment included fatigue, acne, headache and mildly deceased sex drive—though none of the participants discontinued use.)

However, the treatment only lasted 28 days—not a long-enough time to affect sperm production. Further studies extending the duration to gauge the actual changes in sperm production are planned.

The first “male birth control pill” presented at last year’s ENDO conference was dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU. The results were published in last month’s issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, where they presented the daily oral administration in 82 men over a similar period of 28 days.

The still-experimental contraceptive emerged about 60 years after the first oral birth control pill for women hit the market, approved in 1960. Within five years of that first FDA approval, more than 6 million women in the country were using it, according to media accounts.

Previous attempts to develop oral contraceptives for men have fallen short because of two major limitations, said Stephanie Page, senior investigator on both contraceptives, of the University of Washington, last year. Liver inflammation and constant dosing were the two major pitfalls.

Second Male Birth Control Pill Passes Safety Tests