Formulating Products for Women

One of the most important decisions made by microbicide developers is to identify product forms that address women’s preferences.

Even the most efficacious and safe product will not work if women do not use it.

We know from experience that offering product choice increases the chances that products will be used, and IPM places high importance on formulating products that address women’s needs. 

Products Women Want and Will Use

Some women might prefer to use a vaginal gel or film that can be used daily or around the time of sex, while others may want a long-acting vaginal ring that could provide protection for a month or potentially longer.

IPM has focused on investigating delivery mechanisms that are “coitally independent,” meaning the microbicide could be applied once a day or even less frequently, independent of the time of sex. 

Our most clinically advanced formulation is a once-monthly vaginal ring that releases the drug over an extended period.

We undertake each formulation project with the needs and expectations of women in mind, based on the preferences they express in qualitative studies. 

Product Acceptability Studies

To assess the acceptability of different microbicides, IPM conducts product acceptability studies in which women use and evaluate a variety of dosage forms from daily vaginal gels and films to monthly vaginal rings. 

These studies help to inform IPM and other product developers on the product characteristics women prefer, and serve to guide the drug development process, because a product will be effective only if it is used consistently. 

In order to ensure that a microbicide will be widely available and accessible after approvals from in-country regulatory authorities, IPM also works to minimize manufacturing costs and analyze the product's stability in a range of different climates.