23 Feb 2012

Vending Machines Filled With More Than Just Candy

Author: Caitlin Flack | Filed under: Localizing story, Science, Health, Environment

The "morning-after" pill that is being offered at pharmacies across the nation. Photo by the Office of Population Research & Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

By: Caitlin Flack

Rather than seeing the usual chips, cookies, and sodas in the vending machine, students at one university see the “morning-after” pill, condoms, decongestants, and pregnancy tests.

Students at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania are able to obtain the “morning-after” pill from a very usual place – a vending machine located in the student health center.

As of right now, Shippensburg University is the only campus in the United States to have this vending machine. The possibility for Bowling Green to see one of these vending machines in the health center does not seem very likely to the faculty and students here.

BGSU Pharmacy Manager Lon Muir does not see Bowling Green investing in these vending machines.

“You will not be able to get the same level of service out of a vending machine like you would at a pharmacy,” Muir said.

There are many side effects that come along with taking the pill if not taken correctly.

At a pharmacy, students are offered the chance to talk to a pharmacist about the pill to ensure that it is being used properly and safely, Muir said.

“I feel that a vending machine would not offer this level of service,” Muir said.

According to Planned Parenthood, a dose of the pill could cost anywhere from $10 to $70. At Shippensburg, the cost to buy the pills in the vending machine is only $25.

BGSU Pharmacist Michelle Pruss explained that they sell it for $42.60 at the pharmacy on campus.

“Compared to the surrounding pharmacies in Bowling Green we have the cheapest price,” Pruss said.

All of the local pharmacies such as Rite-Aid and Meijer in Bowling Green also offer the pill.

The difference between the pill being sold at Rite-Aid and the pill sold at the pharmacy on campus is the price. Right now the pill is at least $10 more at these other pharmacies.

“Even if we sold it in a vending machine it would still be for $42.60, it just would not be possible to sell it for $25,” Pruss said. “I just don’t feel safe knowing that such a machine exists without explaining the risks, I wouldn’t want one on our campus.”

Freshman Ashlee Thomas, 18, from Kenton, Ohio, believes that there are pros and cons to having this type of vending machine.

“ The vending machine would be good because it allows girls who need the pill privacy, but it is bad in the sense that it is giving girls the permission to have unprotected sex,” Thomas said.

Recently, the Obama administration prevented moving the “morning-after” pill onto drugstore shelves next to condoms and other items because the administration believes that a child should not have the ability to buy medication that has an adverse effect.

It still stands that the only way to get the pill in the Bowling Green area is at a pharmacy.

“We are not encouraging anyone to be sexually active by selling the pill,” Muir said. “That is the decision the each student makes on his or her own.”


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