Pathway to Microbicide Access

The promise of microbicides to help control the HIV/AIDS epidemic will only be realized if women can obtain any future products easily and affordably.

IPM has been laying the groundwork to ensure that effective microbicides, if approved by regulators, can quickly get into the hands of women in developing countries, who face the highest risk of HIV.

Changing the Paradigm

New drugs have historically been designed and developed for industrialized markets, and introduced in developing countries only several years later, if at all.

IPM is committed to changing this paradigm by designing microbicides specifically to expand the range of HIV prevention options for women in developing countries and working with partners to make them available where they are most urgently needed.

From Product Development to Delivery

To maximize potential rollout and uptake of any effective microbicide, IPM considers access throughout the product development process based on a set of core principles:

Identifying women’s needs: To encourage uptake of future microbicides, IPM works directly with women to understand their needs and product preferences from the earliest stages of product development.

Early in the R&D process, IPM conducts market research and product acceptability studies with women in developing countries who would use our products. These studies gather women’s input on various product types to inform the development of user-friendly microbicides that women can and will use. Such studies informed IPM’s decision to advance the monthly dapivirine ring as its lead product. In 2021, the ring became the first long-acting HIV prevention product to receive a WHO recommendation and regulatory approvals in several countries in Africa, opening the door to its addition as a new prevention choice to help meet women’s diverse needs.

Supporting product use: A study called REACH began in February 2019 in Africa to assess young women’s use of and preferences for the monthly ring and daily oral PrEP and understand how to support consistent product use among this high-risk group. Collaborations with implementing partners will also help inform the development of targeted educational materials and adherence interventions to support women for the ring's potential rollout.

Affordability: Ensuring affordability—especially in a new product category like microbicides—requires myriad considerations, from acquiring active drugs through royalty-free agreements that lower startup costs to prioritizing compounds and product formulations that are not only acceptable to women but also are cost-efficient to manufacture and deliver.

IPM is also working on a three-month dapivirine ring that would further reduce costs. Read more about large-scale manufacturing of the dapivirine ring.

Partnering for the dapivirine ring’s success: As a nonprofit product developer, IPM is partnering with a global network of organizations, including government, pharmaceutical, implementers, civil society and academic sectors, to strategically plan for affordable access to the dapivirine ring and its rollout, if it is approved. Learn more about IPM’s partnership approach for the ring’s market introduction and its Access Advisory Committee. 

Read more about IPM’s access strategy.