The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is backing a Massachusetts-based company called MicroCHIPS that specialize in controlled-release medical implants. Their chip, measuring just 20 x 20 x 7 millimeters, is capable of delivering a daily dose of levonorgestrel for use as a contraceptive.
The device would be installed under the skin of the buttocks, upper arm or abdomen. Inside is a reservoir that holds 16 years worth of medicine which is sealed using hermetic titanium and platinum. Passing an electric current through the seal causes it to melt temporarily which releases the daily dose of medicine.
Such implants aren't entirely new. Existing solutions can supply contraceptive medicine for up to five years before needing to be replaced. Additionally, the device must be removed completely should you want to try to have a baby. The MicroCHIPS solution, however, improves upon both of these shortcomings.
For starters, the new device can last up to 16 years before it needs to be replaced - more than three times longer than current implant contraceptives. What's more, the new device can be disabled remotely in the event that you want to conceive. Doctors would also be able to remotely control the dosage to dial in the proper amount of medicine on a per-patient basis.
The team hopes to have a contraceptive version of the device ready for pre-clinical trials next year pending approval from the FDA. Market availability is targeted at 2018, we're told.