From way out in left field — male contraceptive that also cures hair loss

Edit: Please read the very useful comments underneath this post.

At first glance, the recent Daily Mail article about the RISUG male contraceptive that also cures hair loss (!) seemed like an obvious scam to me.  However, upon further research, I have become far more curious about this drug.  RISUG stands for Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance and is basically a drug injected into a man’s vas deferens (the vessel through which sperm moves) via local anesthesia.  Here is the India Today article on the same drug.

For one, the scientist who invented this drug is no slouch.  Dr. Sujoy Guha completed his undergraduate and Masters degrees in electrical engineering at IIT Kharagpur, one of India’s  premier institutions of learning (the IIT system of universities in India is synonymous with the Ivy League system of  universities in the US, but even harder to get into due to India’s vast population).  Dr. Guha then got another Masters degree from the University of Illinois in the US, followed by a PhD in Medical Physiology from Saint Louis University in the US.  He returned to India, got yet another degree (MBBS), and then started the country’s Centre for Biomedical Engineering.  In 2011, Dr. Guha received a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to be used to pursue a variation of RISUG for the fallopian tubes as a female contraceptive.

More significantly, numerous clinical trials and studies in India for well over a decade on both animals and humans have proven that RISUG is both safe and essentially 100 percent effective as a male contraceptive when injections are applied correctly.  Wired Magazine published a very interesting article on this drug and on Dr. Guha in 2011, albeit without a single mention of any effect on hair loss.  RISUG will in all likelihood be released in India by the end of 2014.   Here is a howstuffworks article on RISUG.  More on RISUG and clinical trials in India.  A great 2008 seven page/slide overview on RISUG and its history.

One RISUG injection will supposedly cost just several hundred dollars at most (and probably much less in India), and the effects will last for ten years!  It is also likely that the drug will be released in the US very soon after it comes out in India, under the brand name Vasalgel (rights were purchased from Dr. Guha for $100,000). Unlike a vasectomy, the effects of Vasalgel are reversible, and the initial injection is an almost pain free outpatient procedure.  This product has the potential to become a blockbuster even with no effect on hair loss.  If the effects on hair loss are as positive as Dr. Guha claims, this drug will become bigger than the infamous Bob Dole V drug (am not posting the whole name of that drug so as to limit spam).

Dr. Guha also claims that RISUG will stop prostate cancer and prevent prostate enlargement.  This is not as incredulous as it sounds, since Propecia is also supposed to help with both hair loss and prostate cancer.

2 thoughts on “From way out in left field — male contraceptive that also cures hair loss”

  1. It’s not so much the actual polymer they use in the RISUG procedure, but actually a drug compound that is laced with the polymer; and this essentially is what does the trick. RISUG on its own will do nothing for hair loss, what they are discussing is RISUG and the drug compound being injected as one to not only behave as a contraceptive, but also a prostate cancer/hair loss remedy and what have you.

  2. The compound being injected with the drug is actually finasteride. I don’t have the link anymore, but if you look up the patent for this variant of RISUG, the drug they add is finasteride. It is administered via nanosomes, and I’m not sure if this has any impact on potential side effects or not. As someone who gets serious side effects from fin, this isn’t all that exciting except for the efficacy and ease of the contraceptive.

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