Getting A New Contraception Option to Market: How Public-Private Partnerships Drive Innovation

By Minal Bopaiah, Communications Manager, PSI

The modern Senegalese woman has it together. From raising children to owning a small business, ambition and poise are valued by Senegalese women, according to market research conducted by Ademas, a PSI network member, and its partners before the launch of a new contraceptive option called Sayana Press.

This research, resulting in the creation of a consumer archetype named “Amy” and her husband “Moussa,” helped Ademas and its partners collaborate on product messaging and branding to make Sayana Press available to the women of Senegal with financial means but an unmet need for contraception.

Sayana Press is an injectable hormone-based contraceptive that lasts three months, much like Depo-Provera. But unlike Depo, Sayana Press contains a smaller dose of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), the active ingredient in injectable contraceptives, thereby resulting is less of a hormonal spike. It requires a sub-cutaneous injection, or skin-deep injection, making it less painful and difficult to administer than the muscle-deep injections required for Depo. Sayana Press is also easier to package and transport, making it a more cost-effective solution.

Credit: PATH

Credit: PATH

For the partnering organizations – Ademas, PSI, USAID, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DfID, PATH, UNFPA, and Pfizer – Sayana Press’s advantages were obvious, but creating branding and marketing that spoke to the purchase power of Amy was a bit more difficult. Through a collaborative process,  the partnering organizations realized that it would be best to allow Sayana Press to be marketed under a known contraception brand in Senegal, fostering a sense of trust in consumers. Pfizer, the private sector partner who created Sayana Press, agreed to leave its branding off in favor of the NGO-subsidized Securil brand, and in so doing, is ensuring greater market appeal for its product.

Because Senegal law forbids advertising contraceptive options via television or radio, PSI and its partners focused on marketing Sayana Press at the point of sale, namely pharmacies. These efforts are complimented with general messaging appealing to Amy and Moussa to talk about contraception and birth spacing, in order to maintain their relaxed and self-assured reputation.

Such innovative collaboration shows the power of public-private partnerships. Market research shows that of the women with an unmet need for contraception in Senegal, nearly a third have a “very favorable” attitude toward modern contraceptive options but have no access. None of the partnering organizations could have handled product development, branding, government cooperation, social marketing, dissemination and impact tracking all on its own, but a coalition of seven health-focused stakeholders, the women of Senegal are getting more choice. (Note: Additional aid organizations are working on disseminating Sayana Press free of charge to the poorest strata of Senegal.)

However, there are still obstacles to overcome as global health organizations look to scale the dissemination of Sayana Press from this pilot program in Senegal to other countries. For example, currently, Senegalese women must obtain a prescription for Sayana Press from their provider, travel to a pharmacy to buy the product, then travel back to the provider to have it injected.

Ademas, PSI, USAID and other partners are collaborating to see if the Senegalese government might change its current laws so that pharmacists could inject the drug. Another option is to start marketing the product as appropriate for “home and self-injection,” thereby allowing women to administer it themselves or have their partners inject them.

With such collaborative and mission-oriented partners, coupled with strong data and tracking analytics on the ground, Sayana Press is well positioned to be an affordable, accessible option for not only the women of Senegal, but other women with an unmet need for injectable contraceptives.