“We are on a mission to reduce unintended pregnancies in Canada.”
As the Director of Medical Affairs, Primary Care & Medical Operations at Bayer Inc., Laurie Wingett oversees the clinical trials that happen after a drug has been approved and is on the market. When it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies, Bayer’s intrauterine system releases a hormone called levonorgestrel for up to five years of reliable contraception.
According to Wendy Norman, associate professor of family planning at the University of British Columbia, it’s the most effective contraceptive available in Canada.
That’s why she approached Bayer in hopes that they might donate their system for a trial in partnership with UBC to help reduce future unintended pregnancies by placing contraceptive devices immediately after an abortion.
Post-approval trials like this one can help researchers collect more information on the best ways to use a drug, such as optimal timing or the populations that would get the most benefit. They can also look at long-term benefits and risks.
After meeting with Norman and her team to review the science and her proposed trial, Bayer agreed. They provided enough devices for the trial that they were able to supply sites throughout BC that offer abortion care.
“What I love about the breadth of the collaboration that we’re doing with Dr. Wendy Norman and her group at UBC, she’s really reaching into an area of unmet need,” says Wingett.
“When you look at the stats for post-abortion, 50% of them have another unwanted pregnancy within two years if contraception isn’t provided right after abortion has happened. Access to contraception should reach all women in all areas, and really is a driver of change for public policy.”
Indeed, this collaboration did result in public policy changes in BC because the trial results showed significant benefit to placing Bayer’s devices immediately post-abortion.
“When we conducted the trial we realized that those people who were able to accept an intrauterine system at the time of their abortion were four times more likely to be able to prevent a pregnancy within the next couple of years, and about 10 times more likely than those people who chose any other method of contraception,” says Norman.
“So very, very striking results.”
Norman compiled a report on the trial data for the BC government, and six months later, they funded free post-abortion contraception for people in the province. That policy has now been in place for four years.
“We have a common goal, and on the academia side, they have the strength of the knowledge and the research. On the pharmaceutical side, we tend to dig a little bit deeper into the therapeutic areas,” says Wingett.
“And when we come together, we’re able to reach that common goal.”