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Women’s Health Companies Partner on New Contraceptive

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28 July 2022. Two companies working in women’s reproductive health are developing a new non-hormonal contraceptive that works in cervical mucous membranes. The deal could bring contraceptive developer Cirqle Biomedical in Copenhagen, Denmark as much as $370 million from women’s health products company Organon in Jersey City, New Jersey if all terms of the agreement are fulfilled.

Cirqle Biomedical is a three year-old enterprise creating a local, on-demand contraceptive for women. The company says the contraceptive, called Oui, is a gel applied to cervical mucous with an active ingredient that interacts with the mucous to make it impenetrable to sperm. In addition says Cirqle Bio, the low pH or high acidic environment of the cervix further deactivates sperm. The company says its non-system approach uses no hormones and minimizes adverse effects.

Cirqle Bio’s web site offers no scientific evidence to back up its claims, and the companies’ announcement cites only “encouraging preclinical research”. Science & Enterprise asked the company for any relevant findings demonstrating how Oui works and its minimal adverse effects, and will update this story with a response from Cirqle Bio.

Organon is a maker of drugs, biologics, and medical devices with an emphasis on women’s health. The company’s current products include a contraceptive hormone ring worn in the vagina, a drug to treat and prevent osteoporosis, and a medical device to treat abnormal postpartum uterine bleeding. In addition Organon seeks collaborations to develop further women’s health products including in contraception, fertility, and pregnancy management.

“Advance our preclinical research”

The agreement gives Organon an exclusive global license to develop and commercialize Oui, with a research plan calling for Cirqle Bio to continue responsibility for preclinical studies. Under the deal, Cirqle Bio is receiving an initial payment of $10 million, and is eligible for further milestone payments and royalties on future sales valued at $360 million.

Sandra Milligan, who heads research and development at Organon, says in a company statement, “As a leader in contraception, we believe it is critically important to bring forward new options for women, especially in the space of non-hormonal contraceptives, a category preferred by many with limited available options.” Milligan notes that the company is committed to “collaborating with companies like Cirqle Biomedical to support early science and bring forward new solutions that address the unmet needs of women.”

Cirqle Biomedical’s CEO Frederik Petursson Madsen adds, “This collaboration is an important opportunity to advance our preclinical research exploring this asset’s first-in-class potential.”

Also today, National Institute of Health announced the winners in its challenge competition for new technologies in maternal health. The winning entries share a $1 million purse for medical devices that diagnose or monitor the condition of women during pregnancy and childbirth, particularly in low-resource regions. The first prize of $500,000 went to Bethany Hedt-Gauthier at Harvard Medical School for a set of mobile health tools to monitor for complications during postpartum recovery by women following a caesarian delivery. Science & Enterprise reported on the opening of the competition in December 2021.

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