Breakthrough: CDRI unveils enhanced 90’s contraceptive ‘Saheli’ with minimal chemicals - Hindustan Times

Breakthrough: CDRI unveils enhanced 90’s contraceptive ‘Saheli’ with minimal chemicals

ByAakash Ghosh
Aug 12, 2023 09:40 PM IST

Decade-long research yields fruitful results as CDRI’s reimagined contraceptive ‘Levormeloxifene’ gains DCGI approval for clinical trials

LUCKNOW The CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) in Lucknow has introduced an innovative contraceptive named ‘Levormeloxifene’. The breakthrough contraceptive is notably more effective to the human body with its reduced dose and chemical burden compared to existing market options.

CSIR-CDRI director Radha Rangarajan. (HT Photo)
CSIR-CDRI director Radha Rangarajan. (HT Photo)

Levormeloxifene is a modernised version of the 1990s ‘Saheli’ pill, initially developed by CDRI. Once a staple during the 1990s, Saheli, also known as ‘Chaya’ under the National Family Planning program, has now evolved into Levormeloxifene.

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“The core objective behind this contraceptive’s development was to minimise the chemical content, particularly crucial for women in their reproductive phase who predominantly consume such tablets,” explained Radha Rangarajan, Director of CSIR-CDRI.

Rangarajan elaborated, “The compound ormeloxifene within Saheli comprises two enantiomers, dextro-ormeloxifene, and levo-ormeloxifene (levormeloxifene). Extensive preclinical studies have indicated higher efficacy of the levo counterpart, levormeloxifene. Consequently, this research solely focuses on testing the levo model as a contraceptive, thereby reducing the unnecessary use of dextro-ormeloxifene and alleviating women from undue chemical exposure.”

The development of this groundbreaking contraceptive is the culmination of a decade-long intensive research effort led by a team of scientists, including Wahajul Haq, Vivek Bhosle, Arun Trivedi, Rajesh Jha, Rabi Bhatta, Sharad Sharma, SK Rath and others.

Upon successful clinical trials, this contraceptive will bolster family planning initiatives, adding to the existing range of contraceptive services within the Programme. These services encompass Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCPs), condoms, government-provided ‘Nirodh’ brand, intra-uterine contraceptive devices (IUCD), female and male sterilization, as well as emergency contraceptive pills (ECP).

Notably, Cipla has received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India to conduct Phase-I clinical trials for Levormeoxifene. This investigational drug is a collaborative effort between Cipla and CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow, aimed at developing an oral, non-hormonal contraceptive solution.

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