Former President Bill Clinton has successfully engineered a partnership that has resulted in cutting the cost of long term birth control for women in developing countries in half, proving that while there may be a term limit on the American presidency, there's no term limit on kicking ass. (If there was a movie about super hero ex-Presidents, that would totally be the tag line.) Unfortunately, the birth control that will now be available to millions of women is... sort of crappy.
The deal was announced yesterday, according to the AP, and will benefit 27 million women in developing countries. Clinton's foundation estimates that improved access to Jadelle progesterone implants (which are also known as Norplant) will prevent 30 million unplanned pregnancies and save a quarter of a billion dollars in costs associated with unplanned births. Further, 30,000 maternal deaths and 280,000 child deaths will be prevented by the initiative.
Jadelle is no longer sold in the US (more on that in a bit), but it works similarly to Implanon. A small incision is made on the inside of the upper arm of a woman interested in remaining unpregnant for the foreseeable future and two thin capsules are inserted just below the surface of the skin. Because this birth control method doesn't contain estrogen, women who might otherwise be disqualified from using hormonal birth control are able to use Jadelle. It's effective starting 24 hours after insertion and remains effective for up to 5 years. Women who decide they want to have more children can also have the implant removed. Yay, right?
But the drug isn't all fun and games; the reason Norplant is not available in the United States is that unsatisfied users sued the shit out of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in the 90's after users of the implants reported horrible side effects — headaches, nausea, depression, and the dreaded Forever Period. The pharma never admitted wrongdoing, but ended up paying more than 30,000 angry, crabby users $1,500 apiece in an out of court settlement. Overall, more than 50,000 women sued Wyeth over the drug.
The Clintonian partnership negotiated with Jadelle's manufacturer to cut costs in half in exchange for a 6-year purchasing agreement. Let's hope women in developing countries don't hate it as much as women in America did. Then again, given the alternative, birth control and a headache is probably better than nothing and a baby.