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The Man With The Death-Ray Eyes

By Jesse Taylor
Tuesday, August 5, 2008 11:49 EDT
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imageBig Pharma is standing in the way of male birth control medication because they say guys just don’t want it.

But in 2008, there’s still no birth control for men. What happened? In a word: money. With the cost of new-drug development hovering in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the pharmaceutical industry decided there wasn’t enough of a market to make male hormonal contraceptives worthwhile. The German drug giant Schering halted its development program in 2006 (after its high-profile acquisition by Bayer), and other drug companies quickly followed suit, abandoning several projects that were — at least by the researchers’ accounts — on the verge of success.

According to Kirsten Thompson, director of the Male Contraception Coalition, if Phase III clinical trials were to begin tomorrow on some of those discarded drugs, men would probably have their pick of contraceptive gels or implants — just like women — within five years. Yet, she says, drug companies still aren’t interested. Though industry representatives refused to speak to the marketability question for this article, one spokeswoman for Organon, Monique Mols, told the industry journal Chemistry World in 2007, “Despite 20 years of research, the development of a [hormonal] method acceptable to a wide population of men is unlikely.”

That’s left some researchers, unsurprisingly, jaded. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” says Dr. David Handelsman, an Australian researcher who has spent two decades studying male contraceptives, including an implant-injection system that delivers testosterone via an implant in the arm, plus a progestin in four yearly injections. “The pharmaceutical industry is completely disconnected from the public and medical perceptions of need.”

Dude. In the past fifteen years, I’m now intimately familiar with marketed treatments and cures for diseases that I’m pretty sure didn’t exist before the pills were invented. If necessary, I know a pharmaceutical cornucopia of options that would give me the ability to hang drywall with my penis after a five-second flipthrough of Playboy. Within five years, a marketable option to give me death ray-eyes will be on the market, and I will be tempted to take that shit, side effects of partial paralysis and spastic colon be damned.

And you’re telling me you can’t market no-baby sex? To men??? I was reading Neil Lyndon, renowned MRA and total fucking whiner, yesterday, and the central conceit behind “Saving the Males” leapt out at me – they’re really only concerned with the “negative stereotypes” against men that directly affect them in their concerns, which tend to involve Getting The Kid(s) Back To Show That Bitch. In Kathleen Parker’s case, it seems to be that her absolute disgust with humanity leads her to attack women slightly more than men because she views them to have a smidge more power.

But neither of them will complain about this, because they’re the exact kind of people who would expect men to forget their pills or lie about taking them. Medication and responsibility for fertility isn’t Man Shit, it’s Woman Shit, and you’d best not forget. A major industry deciding that men – millions of whom manage to do things every day which require more effort and less potential reward than birth control – are simply uninterested and incapable of swallowing a tiny pill on a daily basis would seem to be the ultimate argument against men, made in as offensive and patronizing a manner as possible.

Even minus the reproductive sheen on all of it, it should still be fucking insulting to these tireless crusaders. Except, hey, male birth control doesn’t leave with a kid to jerk around and hold as a bargaining chip with your castrating ex-wife. Of course, if your ex-wife was castrating, we wouldn’t be talking about this…

Incidentally, one of the major hangups in this case is actually legitimate – a significant number of men don’t actually respond to hormonal birth control, leaving it fully effective in the majority of cases where it does work, and totally ineffective in the ones where it doesn’t. But even when fully effective BC becomes available, it still seems like there’s significant resistance to the idea.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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