Feb 152012
Authors: Carrie Mobley

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania has made national headlines in recent weeks because of its controversial sale of Plan B, an emergency contraceptive, in one of the school’s vending machines.

And this method of dolling out Plan B has caught the attention of officials at CSU.

“This is a pretty new thing,” said Gwen Sieving, a health educator for the CSU Health Network. “I think it’s really important that a school does their homework and research ahead of time and that’s what we are doing. We are just beginning that process. It’s way too early to speculate whether or not that kind of system would fit here. It needs to be research-based and effective.”

Although Shippensburg’s machine, which is placed in the university’s health center, is not a new addition to the campus, the recent media coverage of its existence has caused a heated debate over whether or not this type of distribution is ethically sound.

“The machine, which vends only health-related items, is in a private room in our health center and the health center is accessible only by students,” said Roger L. Serr, the university’s vice president for student affairs.

“There is one machine only and the medication is not available anywhere else on campus. In addition, 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 using appropriate identification are granted access to the private treatment area,” he added.

Serr said the machine dispenses the medication for $25, which is the same cost that the university pays for it, and the medical staff is always available for consultation about the purchase.

CSU provides Plan B to students as part of their student fees, and also offers free personalized consultations to all students considering contraception options. Any student can make an appointment to obtain the medication, but this type of person-to-person interaction appears to be what Shippensburg University was trying to prevent.

“I think the vending machine concept has its pros and cons,” said Alicia Kaempfe, a junior human development and family studies major. “It’s good to have some privacy because that can be an embarrassing situation for a person to be in, but I also don’t appreciate the idea of being able to purchase Plan B in the same way one would purchase a Coke.”

Collegian writer Carrie Mobley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

The History of Plan B

1999- Approved by FDA to be sold at pharmacies under the name of Plan B; included a two-step process.

2003- Plan B became available over-the-counter

2006- FDA announced that women ages 18 and older would be able to purchase Plan B without a prescription

2009- Plan B one-step was made available for sale

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