Finland's Huhtam aki group is known for its Norplant contraceptive implant, which prevents conception for up to five years. Now, it's using similar technology to launch an IUD that reduces the menstrual pain and bleeding that other IUDs worsen. This product will enable the 20% of women who suffer excessive bleeding and cramps to use an IUD. And it could widen the practice of birth control in developing countries.
Like Norplant, which was introduced to the U.S. market a year ago by American Home Products Corp.'s Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, the new IUD gradually releases the hormone progestin over five years. This causes tissue on the inside of the uterus to atrophy, dramatically reducing menstrual bleeding and pain. The new device also has the lowest failure rate of IUDs currently available, according to the Population Council in New York, which helped develop the contraceptive. "And because the IUD is already in the right place, the hormone dosage is smaller" than that of the pill or Norplant, says Timo Peltola, president of the $1.5 billion Finnish conglomerate. Huhtam aki has already completed extensive field testing in Scandinavia and recently won approval to market its IUD in Finland. Next, it hopes to get the product accepted in other European countries and in the U.S.