FDA OK with college's Plan B contraceptive vending machine

Shippensburg University officials and others met to discuss the availability of Plan B on campus and decided it should be allowed to continue.

Federal regulators have decided not to take any action against a Pennsylvania university for selling the Plan B "morning-after" pill from a campus vending machine.

Officials at Shippensburg University and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewed the dispensing method for the emergency contraceptive after concerns arose last year over its availability to students. Some critics claimed the vending machine would encourage more students to have sex.

"FDA looked at publicly available information about Shippensburg's vending program and spoke with university and campus health officials and decided not to take any regulatory actions," Erica V. Jefferson, an FDA spokeswoman, said in a statement made available to MSN News.

Plan B is an over-the-counter medication available without prescription for those 17 years old or older at pharmacies and drug stores around the nation. It's meant to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

The vending machine containing Plan B is in a room inside Shippensburg University's health center.  The machine has been in place for about three years, but its existence wasn't widely known until last year, when stories about it hit the national media.

After controversy arose, university officials and others met to discuss the availability of Plan B on campus. Both the Student Senate and the University Forum passed resolutions saying the medication should continue to be dispensed.

"In addition, research we conducted showed that Plan B is available at colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania and the nation, and is considered by experts in the field of college medicine to be part of the standard of care," Peter M. Gigliotti, Shippenburg's executive director for university communications and marketing, said in a statement last week.

The statement and the FDA regulatory non-action were first reported by Public Opinion.

Gigliotti said the university has installed an additional card reader that students must use before they can access the machine.

He said no state-supported or taxpayer-supported dollars are used for the vending machine, which dispenses Plan B at cost for $25.

"Plan B is available widely in colleges and universities nationwide," Gigliotti told MSN News on Tuesday. "We are far from the first to do this and we are not the only ones."

He said he didn't know how vending machine sales of Plan B were going. 

The American College Health Association, an organization of college health professionals throughout the nation, says it isn't aware of any group that tracks how many schools have contraceptive vending machines on campus.

Shippensburg is a public university of about 7,700 students tucked between mountain ridges in the Cumberland Valley, about 40 miles west-southwest of Harrisburg.

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