USAID Unleashes Norplant-Like Implant for Poor Women

By Lisa Correnti
WASHINGTON, DC, October 12 (C-FAM)
The US Agency for International Development announced on World Contraception Day a partnership with international donors to distribute Jadelle, a secondgeneration of Norplant, to poor women in developing countries. The contraceptive is not distributed for use in more affluent countries. Jadelle was developed by the Population Council, a group known for its eugenics roots. “Eugenic goals are most likely to be achieved under another name than eugenics,” wrote Frederick Osborn, the first president of Population Council, founded by John D. Rockefeller III in the 1950’s. Jadelle, a trade name for Norplant II, prevents pregnancies by slowly releasing levonorgestrel (a known abortifacient) through two tube-like rods that are inserted under the skin of the upper arm, thus inhibiting ovulation, thickening cervical mucus, and altering the lining of the uterus. The WHO-approved implant lasts up to 5 years and is said to be reversible. Promoters of Jadelle compare its efficacy to that of surgical sterilization. Studies found about 19 out of every 100 women discontinued use of Jadelle because of bleeding problems. About 65% of users reported bleeding irregularities, and 6.2% reported problems when having the rods removed. Distributing long-term contraceptives to poor women in developing countries was a goal of the recent London Family Planning Summit sponsored by the Gates Foundation and the UK government and held on the 100th anniversary of the first international eugenics conference in London. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) renewed its commitment to family planning at the Summit, specifically to long-term contraceptive methods. This new initiative is a joint effort with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and the governments of Norway, UK, Sweden, and the U.S. Bayer HealthCare, the German pharmaceutical company that produces the contraceptive, agreed to reduce the cost of Jadelle by fifty percent – to $18 dollars – in exchange for a guaranteed six-year contract that includes “funding for at least 27 million contraceptive devices.” The FDA approved use of Norplant I in the U.S. in 1990 but distribution ceased in 2002 due to widespread complaints of side effects and lawsuits filed by over 50,000 women. USAID’s contract with the manufacturer of Norplant, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, continued until 2006. While the FDA approved Jadelle in 1996 it has yet to be distributed in the United States, implying a different standard for women in developing countries. A closer look at the Population Council website discloses potential risks in using Jadelle and the lack of significant studies with research limited to just 5 years post use. Known side effects are irregular bleeding, ovarian cysts, blood clots, possible increased risk of gall bladder disease and an increased risk of cancer at the implant site from having a “foreign-body intrusion[s].”
Funding for international reproductive health/family planning has increased 40% under the Obama administration. The 2012 USAID budget of $524 million exceeds the budgets for tuberculosis, public health threats, pandemic influenza, vulnerable children and nutrition combined.
“It’s another victory for people in the developing world, because we in the wealthier countries can now see that by putting up a modest amount of money and pooling it with others and working with the providers, we can make market forces work to help poor people and save lives,” announced former president Bill Clinton at a U.N. General Assembly event.