On whether the machine might violate the law, "I don't have a definite yes or no," said Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees the state pharmacy board. If a person younger than 17 used the machine, it "potentially could be a violation," he said.
The drug isn't covered or subsidized by the school. Its price at the vending machine is set by the school's cost to the pharmaceutical company and is less than at off-campus pharmacies.
Deanne Hall, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, noted that the ease of access to such a machine could be positive for many women, but she wondered whether self-treatment might deter sexual assault victims from seeking medical attention.
"This does open up a different door," she said.
Rob Maher, a professor at the Duquesne University School of Pharmacy in Pittsburgh, said he had never heard of a vending machine dispensing Plan B, but noted that there have been vending machines in doctor's offices, and even a specialized machine designed to fill prescriptions.
Still, he questioned whether the machine would make it possible for a young person to buy the drug without discussing their risk factors with a health care professional.
"That's the big risk with a vending machine like this," he said.
Carol Tobias, president of the anti-abortion group National Right to Life, said other services would be more appropriate.
"It would be a much more productive use of funds if universities would partner with local pregnancy resource centers where students can get real help if they need it," Tobias said.
Said Anna Franzonello, counsel to Americans United For Life: "Students at Shippensburg University deserve better than to have their administration represent the potent drug with life-ending potential as no more harmful than any other vending machine item."
Begos reported from Pittsburgh.
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