Text: Margaux Fritschy

“I’m con-cerned about the price”

Spectacular progress or science gone out of control? Thierry Buclin, physician-in-chief of the Clinical Pharmacology Division at the CHUV shares his opinion.

IV Do you think that
these chip treatments can be useful?
TB Honestly, I’m more concerned about the price. Technology like that is expensive. Unless the healthcare system wants to come on board, I don’t think that these contraceptive microchips will be affordable for everyone. The costs aside, we’ll also have to see whether these devices can be adapted to other treatments. That’s not really what we’re seeing. The dose of medication has to be very small to be contained inside the chip. I can only think of hormonal treatments being compatible with the technology, such as for contraception, thyroid imbalances, osteoporosis or delicate treatments using growth hormones.

IV A third party could use the microchips because they’re remote-controlled. Isn’t that dangerous?
TB Insulin pumps used by diabetics are Bluetooth-enabled. Cardiac pacemakers are also controlled through the skin. So these devices would also present a potential danger. The truth is, this type of technology always raises fears about hacking risks, but I don’t know if they’re founded.

IV Couldn’t the governments of countries with high birth rates want to control these microchips to reduce the number of births?
TB Governments don’t need this technology to control their country’s birth rates. For example, in South Africa the government offers financial compensation or nutritional supplements to women from underprivileged groups who choose to use implants or have contraceptive injections every three months. Ethically, it’s not black and white. They have to be able to advise the right contraception method.