23 Feb 2012

Plan B in Vending Machine

Author: Christina Hepner | Filed under: Localizing story, Spring 2012, Student Contributor

By Christina Hepner

Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania has made it easy for students to purchase the “morning after” pill.  The university put it in a vending machine, where students can easily access the pill.  The vending machine is located in their health center and provides Plan B and contraceptives at a low cost to students.

This undated photo provided by Shippensburg University shows the vending machine at Shippensburg University's Etter Health Center that provides the Plan B emergency contraceptive along with condoms, decongestants and pregnancy tests. Photo by Collegenews.com

Now that one university has done this, will other colleges, such as Bowling Green State University, look into doing the same?

When shown the article, Bowling Green staff and students were shocked that the FDA would approve the installation of this machine.

Bowling Green’s pharmacy offers students a chance to talk with a pharmacist to make sure the pill is being used safely and properly.  “I feel that a vending machine would not offer this level of service to the students,” Lon Muir, pharmacy manager at Bowling Green State University’s Student Health Center said in an email.  Installing a vending machine for this product would be taking away the reassurance that students are using this product for the right reasons.

Faith Yingling, the director of wellness at Bowling Green State University said, “I think that there are certainly pros and cons to the issue. One of the pros is that it takes away the barrier to the youths.” Yingling works closely with Bowling Green’s Student Wellness Connection, which is an organization that promotes safe sex on campus.   The organization tries to help keep students informed about how to use contraceptives and plan b.  Yingling said a lot of students are afraid of having to go to the pharmacy to get Plan B.  Having a vending machine readily available for anyone who needs it would be a good thing for some students.

Something that could be a concern would be if someone were getting sexually assaulted and were just getting Plan B out of the machine instead of going to a doctor about it, said Yingling.  The Wellness Connection strives to help students who are get sexually assaulted.  Yingling’s main concern would be the safety of student’s in Bowling Green.

The FDA is investigating Shippensburg installation of the vending machine.  They are making sure that this machine is in line with the federal requirement of anyone under the age of 17 have a prescription for the pill.  The FDA will probably be the one who will decide if other universities will install something similar, said Yingling.  Only time will tell if Bowling Green will ever get this.

Bowling Green's Health Center, the place where a similar machine would be put if the university ever got one. By Christina Hepner

Samantha Greve, sophomore at Bowling Green, was shocked when she read about Shippensburg doing this. “I do not think this idea is smart, but I also would not call it stupid.  It is not a bad idea, but I feel that college students should be more responsible, and it is not the job of the college to help students fix a problem,” said Greve.

Greve is against Bowling Green installing this in the school.  “I would not trust getting contraceptives from a vending machine.  I feel like going to a pharmacy is a safer more reliable source,” Greve said.

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