'Bloodless painless' circumcision device abandoned

Manufacturer says uptake n sluggish due to 'unreasonable WHO regulations' but product is still available to buyers

In Summary

• WHO said boys should get anti-tetanus vaccine before it is placed; should be done in a surgical room. 

• Device used on boys aged 13 and above, some users complained of foul smell as it stays on private parts for seven days. 

The Prepex bloodless circumcision device withdrawn from Kenyan market because of WHO restrictions.
PAINLESS CIRCUMCISION: The Prepex bloodless circumcision device withdrawn from Kenyan market because of WHO restrictions.

The Israeli firm that introduced a 'bloodless and painless' circumcision device in Kenya three years ago has abandoned it, citing frustrations from the World Health Organization. 

Kenya officially adopted the device called Prepex in 2016 to expand safe circumcision methods. 

However, the uptake has been sluggish.


The manufacturer says it has abandoned the project and is now offloading it to interested buyers. 

"Circ Medtech, the PrePex manufacturer, was unable to remove unreasonable WHO-imposed restrictions which have materially disadvantaged the product as compared to other circumcision methods for several years now," company CEO Eddy Horowitz said. 

While prequalifying Prepex, WHO insisted users must first be injected with the anti-tetanus vaccine.

It also insisted on sterile rooms, which are often unavailable in targetted remote and poor areas. 

"PrePex is used only in settings where suitable surgical facilities and skills are available within a short time frame (six to 12 hours), " WHO said.

In 2016, National Aids and STI Control Programme boss Martin Sirengo said the device would be used on boys aged 13 years and above.

Instead of cutting the foreskin, the device uses an elastic band to compress the foreskin between two rings, cutting off blood supply until the foreskin dries up. After one week, it is safely removed.


"The procedure is bloodless, requires no injected anaesthesia, no sutures and takes only a few minutes to perform," Sirengo said.

Last month, the manufacturers said it made no business sense to continue producing the devices.

"Consequently and with considerable regret, the company board has decided to abandon the PrePex programme, effective immediately," Horowitz said

"CMT will embark on an expedited sale process of the PrePex programme assets, including Intellectual Property, production equipment and know-how and will be looking to entertain indications of interest in the next few weeks," he said.

Kenya launched rapid medical male circumcision in 2008 after scientific studies showed it reduces a man’s risk of becoming infected with HIV by 60 per cent.

Prepex was marketed as 'bloodless and painless', targetting men and boys afraid of traditional or surgical circumcision.

Some users complained of a foul smell because the device remained on the client's private parts for seven days.

Chinese manufacturers of ShangRing, which works in a similar way to Prepex, are currently on a marketing blitz for their device in Kenya. 

(Edited by R.Wamochie)