The prevention of HIV and herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection is a critical global health priority. In contrast to daily therapies, sustained release approaches to drug delivery have special appeal for use in the developing world: they are less expensive on a per patient basis, they require less infrastructure to provide to the community, and they are more effective. Drug delivery systems based on intravaginal ring (IVR) devices empower women to protect themselves from HIV and other infections in regions where cultural, economic, and other factors put them at increased risk for becoming infected, with few options to protect themselves.
IVRs for the delivery of contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy are currently commercially available, but these ring designs are limited to applications using very hydrophobic drugs and do not effectively deliver two drugs simultaneously unless their physical properties are very similar. A novel IVR platform for simultaneous release of multiple drugs is under development at Oak Crest in collaboration with Auritec Pharmaceuticals, Inc.. Each drug is released from one or more separate “pods” within the ring, with the release rate from each pod controlled independently through both the pod structure and the materials properties of the pod components. Oak Crest and Auritec are actively developing IVRs for a number of infectious diseases, including HIV and HSV pre-exposure prophylaxis, and an IVR for prevention of HSV transmission is currently in a pre-phase I clinical trial.