By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Researchers are testing a birth control microchip that can be turned off and on with a remote. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl explains how it works.
It’s a tiny implanted chip that was first tested as a way to deliver medicine for osteoporosis. Bill and Melinda Gates are behind the effort to use the technology for birth control.
It’s a microchip that may be the future of contraception. Implanted under the skin, it can deliver tiny amounts of hormone like a birth control pill.
“This kind of technology could have a major effect and revolutionize various aspects of medicine, including birth control,” said Dr. Bob Langer, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Biotech firm MicroCHIPS is testing the chip that can hold enough hormone to prevent pregnancy for up to 16 years. When a woman wants to conceive the chip is turned off with a remote, and their making sure it can’t be hacked.
“The remote control must be put up against the skin in order to establish communication. The reason we do that is we want people to have close range communication to prevent anyone from listening in to the encrypted signal,” said Bob Farra, President and COO of MicroCHIPS.
Some experts point out that women already have Implantable birth control options like the IUD, but many still choose the pill.
“If women in the U.S. are not using the long acting methods now, why are they going to be more likely to use this one,” said Dr. Lisa Perriera, a Gynecologist.
Doctors say unlike the IUD, the birth control chip doesn’t need to be removed every time a woman is ready to have a child. Testing will continue for the next couple of years. If it’s eventually approved, the chip is expected to cost about a thousand dollars.