Birth control: An open design concept

No readers like this yet.
A new presciption for open source health care

The future of women’s health—and the health of all U.S. citizens, for that matter—has been in the spotlight lately. Health care regulation is an important issue to both President Obama and health care organizations like Planned Parenthood—both of whom argue that it’s critical to pass laws ensuring access to affordable contraception for all women, couples, and families.

Though the Supreme Court recently upheld the Affordable Care Act, requiring many insurance plans to fully cover contraception without co-pays or deductibles as part of women's preventive care, there are many who do not support the healthcare plan. So, because federal laws must be voted in (and can subsequently be voted out, as political winds shift and public opinions change), finding alternative solutions for affordable contraception may require a different approach.

Ronen Kadushin, an Israeli designer and proponent of "open design," has developed plans for a low-cost contraceptive, an intrauterine device (IUD) that he believes could provide such an opportunity for many interested in family planning. He discusses his philosposy behind open source product design:

Producers, with the power to control all aspects of a product, are the gatekeepers of design creativity, deciding what and how products are available to consumers. This situation begins in Industrial design education systems that train designers to integrate into an industrial production scenario and accept that producers have the right to regulate design and indoctrinate their set of values and ends. Fresh approaches and radical views are marginalized as they do not conform with the dogmas of the Church of Industrial Design. But other creative fields that found their products in phase with the realities of the Internet and information technology (fields such as music, communication design, animation photography, text, etc.) are experiencing an unprecedented flood of freely available creative content. 

Kadushin further explains that because pharmaceutical and biotech companies hold proprietary rights for the only available forms of contraception on the market, most are too expensive for people without insurance or for those whose health care plans don't cover contraceptive drugs and devices. Plus, the only two FDA approved IUDs available on the U.S. market, ParaGard™ ($784) and Mirena™ ($843), have upfront costs that are much more expensive than other options (like "the pill") despite being less expensive than any other option over time.

The IUD has had a tough past, but many health care experts say it’s becoming increasingly popular for women of all ages. If demand continues to rise (as industry leaders like Victoria Hale, CEO of Medicines 360, believe it will) Kadushin says it's an ideal time for a networked community or forward-thinking pharmaceutical company to use open source principles to create a functional, open design IUD. And the use of production methods like 3-D printing could additionally help to drive down costs.

Even though the device isn't ready for medical use, Kadushin has posted conceptual designs for the Bearina IUD online.

User profile image.
Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.


What a well written, interesting relevant article!
Thank you Open Source, for informing and inspiring citizens.

I am an ER RN who sees humans and our healthcare system at their best and worst.

I also carry an IUD that my insurance co did not cover. The PlannedParenthood on Boylan offered me a payment plan of 100$/mo for one year. The IUD provides contraception for 12 years.

Thank you Ms. Wike!

"Kadushin further explains that because pharmaceutical and biotech companies hold proprietary rights for the only available forms of contraception on the market, most are too expensive for people without insurance"

Really? That's plainly false. Which indicates to me that this whole thing comes more from ideology than reason.

I did some web searching to check your assertion. The key word above was "most," not all. So what are the cheap options? Condoms, spermicides, and The Pill. Condoms definitely break; better slather up some spermicide. There's an operator error factor in those. Will people do what's needed, reliably every time? The Pill has serious side effects. So the "ideology" could be that (1) the birth control should work, and (2) it shouldn't warp the person's health. In other words, you get what pay for, and not everyone can pay the same.

The most economical form of "contraception" (so-called) was taught by Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu and her companions in Calcutta with an over 98% "success" rate. This is confirmed by the WHO. Its cost: a one-time thermometer purchase. This is open source at its finest.

The IUD, properly understood, is not a contraceptive, but rather an aboritfacient. A human embryo comes into existence, and the IUD prevents the human embryo from implanting in the uterine wall. The embryo then passes out of the mother's body. This is how the IUD is designed.

It's either ignorance, or euphemistic to call it a contraceptive.

How about indifference to the hair splitting? The origin of human consciousness is either mechanical or mystical, there really isn't a middle ground.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.