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The Professor Who Had to Spend Half His Life to Make the Drug India Needs

Sujoy Guha has spent 37 years trying to realise Risug, a long-term use reversible male contraceptive – itself an unusual thing. It should have come to be more than a decade ago.


verything is still the same.
Sujoy Kumar Guha, professor emeritus at IIT-Kharagpur, wakes up around 11 am, reads the paper and thinks of what science can offer as solutions to the big problems of the day. In the evenings he runs his PhD students off their feet with constant demands, yet somehow leaves them itching to do something worthy of him. Around midnight, he takes off for a jog around the handsome campus with a leather belt wrapped around his right palm to fend off the stray dogs. He is still the slight, sprightly, soft-spoken man he was. He still answers questions after a few seconds' silence with a lateral anecdote. He still describes most persons as a "very nice man".
Everything is much the same as in 2002, when the then health minister C.P. Thakur had announced the imminent launchof Guha's drug molecule Risug, a reversible male contraceptive. But the clinical trials were then halted on the charge that Risug was toxic. It took five years for the professor to restart the trials. In 2016, Risug is once again almost ready for its launch at the tail end of the phase III clinical trials that have been "99% successful", according to the ICMR. Only, he was 62 then, he is 76 now. And in the past 14 years have been spent in proving what he had already proved successfully.
"We have completed testing on 282 volunteers in five centres across India, and zero side-effects and difficulties have been reported," said Dr R.S. Sharma, head of Reproductive Biology and Maternal Health at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in a telephone interview. "I am waiting to reach 300 volunteers and then I will submit Risug for approval to the Drug Controller General of India. It is very unusual, in fact. I have worked on Risug for 25 years and not a single problem has been reported so far."

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