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Plan B in a Vending Machine At PA University

Plan B in a Vending Machine At PA University

While it it not possible to purchase Plan B One-Step (the “morning after” pill) from US drugstores, if you’re a student at central Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University, you can buy it from a vending machine. A survey about health center services revealed that 85 percent of the respondents were in support of making Plan B available. A machine with Plan B (cold lozenges, cough drops, condoms, and pregnancy tests) was installed after the student association requested it, says Dr. Roger Serr, vice president of student affairs at the university. Each dose of Plan B costs $25.

Taking Plan B within 72 hours of having sex can reduce the chance of becoming pregnant by up to 89 percent; the pill is most effective when used within 24 hours. Two other such emergency contraceptives are a generic version similar to Plan B, Next Choice, and a prescription-only pill, ella.

Those 17 and older are currently able to obtain the pill without a prescription. In December, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blocked an FDA proposal to allow Plan B to be sold over the counter without any age restrictions.

The Washington Post says the making Plan B available in a vending machine appears to be “be rare, if not unprecedented.” Shippensburg University spokesman Paul Gigliotti says that the vending machine is located in “a private room” in the university’s health center, which is only accessible by students.” Gigliotti also says that

“…no one can walk in off the street and go into the health center. Students proceed to a check-in desk located in the lobby and after checking in are granted access to the treatment area.”

The university is neither covering nor subsidizing the medication.

Some religious conservatives have expressed concerns about those under 17 having access to the vending machine. Jessica Sheets Pika, a spokeswoman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, is quoted in the Washington Post as saying that “if the health center is manned 24/7, that sounds like it’s a sufficient protection.”

The fact that a clear majority of Shippensburg University students expressed their support for making Plan B easily accessible offers further testimony about why the emergency contraceptive should be made available over-the-counter.

Related Care2 Coverage

Obama Contraceptive Mandate Outrages Religious Groups

Health Secretary Blocks Proposal to Allow Plan B on Drugstore Shelves

Plan B and the Kids: Care2 Members’ Strong Comments



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3:24PM PDT on Aug 16, 2013

You know, reading this got me to thinking: we'd be better off without vending machines of any kind. Think about the added waste they create through excessive consumption of disposable goods...and the fact that everyone has easy access to them.

8:05AM PST on Mar 1, 2012

This article is misleading, as are some of the comments pertaining to it. First of all, Plan B is available OTC without a prescription to all women and men 17 and older in the United States. ( Second, the decision to allow Plan B OTC to women and/or children of any age was blocked by Kathleen Sebelius, the current health secretary (, who is a Democrat (

11:42AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

wow, unprecedented indeed!!

7:32AM PST on Feb 12, 2012

Given that this pill delivers a fair-sized dose of artificial hormones, I think it's irresponsible to be selling it from a vending machine like a snack or a packet of tampons or a condom.

12:45AM PST on Feb 11, 2012

I don't think the morning after pill is a good idea in a vending machine. Yes accidents do happen but the person taking it should be asked certain questions by a pharmacist, girls have died taking this pill because they had an underlying condition unknown to themselves and family. It was only dicovered after.
I'm not saying it shouldn't be available, just controlled a little. After all you have 72 hours so you can get to a pharmacy or walk in clinic in this time.

10:20PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

I am not sure about the vending machine idea, but it needs to be available over the counter.

4:41PM PST on Feb 9, 2012


7:11AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Holy crap I am soooo disappointed in the comments on here. I'm a prude ccause I think it might encourage irresponsibility? What freaking world are you living in. Young people (and old yes, yes) make poor decisions. We all know the college party rep. Your really going to tell me that not one single drunk person at a party might possibly be influenced to disregard the potential for an std because they are only at the moment thinking about pregnancy and the fact that they can just grab a pill the next day on their way to class??? SERIOUSLY??? And the one who said it should be in HIGH SCHOOLS?!? Jesus christ! That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Also to say there is not gonna be any side effects except no baby? There are drugs that have been tested and approved, and on the market for YEARS that are suddenly pulled off the shelves because of the dangers. EVERY drug has the possibility for harmful side effects. Maybe if you used it once you might be okay but what about the girls who use it over and over? And don't tell me there won't be any. Open your freakin eyes! This will ABSOLUTELY become a factor in last minute impulsive decision making!! And just because I am RESPONSIBLE and CARING enough for the welfare of others does not make me a prude I love sex and enjoy it frequently. So to the 65 yr old grandma shame on you for acting like an immature child on here. Grow the hell up and use your BRAIN!

5:44AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Plan B should be available to everywoman everywhere. Unlikely as long as Republicans rule congress.

12:25AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Thanks for the article.

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