Plan B and a Coke

Vending machine pills


Vending machines in the student health center at Pennsylvania's Shippensburg University offer an unusual product: the morning-after pill. Self-service Plan B has been available to students for the last two years, but a recent burst of publicity has attracted unwelcome interest from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which began investigating the legality of the sales in February.

The vending machines sell 350 to 400 doses a year at $25 each. The pills can be legally sold over the counter to anyone 17 or older, and the health center is accessible only to people with a student ID. The Plan B vending machines are part of a long history of morally controversial products and services sold via machines, including peep shows, pinball, and prophylactics. 

Shippensburg is a small school of 8,600 students, located in an even smaller town with a permanent population of about 6,000. "I think it's great that the school is giving us this option," junior Chelsea Wehking told the Associated Press. "I've heard some kids say they'd be too embarrassed" to go into town for the pill. 

Ready access to Plan B also means it is more likely to be effective. It must be taken within 72 hours and works best if taken within 24.