Not your av­er­age vend­ing ma­chine

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

Out­liers thought it had seen just about ev­ery­thing, but a state school in Penn­syl­va­nia def­i­nitely caught us off-guard. Seems Ship­pens­burg (Pa.) Univer­sity, a medium-sized in­sti­tu­tion in the south-cen­tral part of the state, has some­thing unique: a vend­ing ma­chine that stocks the “morn­ing af­ter” pill.

It al­lows stu­dents to drop $25 into the ma­chine to buy the Plan B One-step emer­gency con­tra­cep­tive. The ma­chine also of­fers con­doms, preg­nancy tests and de­con­ges­tants. It could be the only such vend­ing ma­chine in the coun­try.

While it’s been there for about two years, the vend­ing ma­chine hadn’t at­tracted much no­tice un­til lately. But now that the word is out, the school faces scru­tiny in the wake of furor over the new fed­eral man­date that would re­quire all health plans, in­clud­ing many of those of­fered by Catholic or­ga­ni­za­tions, to pro­vide their em­ploy­ees with con­tra­cep­tion. The U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion has al­ready con­tacted Ship­pens­burg and of­fi­cials in Penn­syl­va­nia to in­ves­ti­gate. While the pill is over-the­counter, it’s avail­able only be­hind phar­macy coun­ters, and of­fi­cials aren’t sure if the vend­ing ma­chine breaks any laws.

School of­fi­cials say they’re com­pli­ant with fed­eral law, as all of their stu­dents are over 17, mak­ing it le­gal for them to buy the pill. The ma­chine isn’t in a dorm, but in­side the school’s health cen­ter, and Ship­pens­burg of­fi­cials say ev­ery­one at the cen­ter must sign in, which pre­vents non­stu­dents from unau­tho­rized ac­cess.

AP PHOTO

Of­fi­cials at Ship­pens­burg say only those who are over 17 have ac­cess to the Plan B vend­ing ma­chine.

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