Remote control contraceptives could be on the market by 2018

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014
remote control drug delivery device
This undated handout photo provided by MicroCHIPS, Inc., Massachusetts, show the drug delivery device, right, next to an everyday computer memory stick.

No more pills. No more patches. The future of birth control might be a tiny microchip.

Scientists in Massachusetts have developed a contraceptive computer chip that's implanted under a woman's skin and activated and deactivated by a remote control.

"The ability to turn the device on and off provides a certain convenience factor for those who are planning their family," Dr. Robert Farra from MIT told the BBC.

The chip stores tiny reservoirs of the birth control hormone levonorgestrel. Every day the chip is active, it releases a 30 microgram dose into the body, help prevent unwanted pregnancies.

The chip has enough of the hormone to last for 16 years.

The company says it is now working to ensure the absolute security of the device to prevent activation or deactivation by another person without the woman's knowledge.

"Communication with the implant has to occur at skin contact level distance," said Dr. Farra. "Someone across the room cannot re-program your implant."

The same technology could be used to administer other drugs.