Students at the University of California, Davis, can now more than Sun Chips and Diet Cokes from campus vending machines—they can get contraceptives, too. They no longer need a pharmacy for the morning-after pill—just $30 in cash.
Parteek Singh, the mastermind behind the vending machine, says he decided to make it a priority during his time as a student senator after realizing how some students lacked access to emergency contraception.
In 2013, the Obama administration made Plan B available over the counter, without a prescription. The drug can prevent pregnancy, but it must be taken within 72 hours of sex. But in Davis, only one local drug store is open 24/7, Singh said.
“There’s been incidents where people have gone to the pharmacy on a Friday night and have not been able to get emergency contraception because they were all out and wouldn’t have more until Monday,” Singh told Heat Street. “I thought that was problematic.”
To get the vending machine on campus, Singh worked with Student Affairs, the Student Health and Wellness Center, Student Health and Counseling Services, and the school library. In addition to $30 Plan B, the vending machine also dispenses menstrual products, pregnancy tests, condoms and Advil.
“Pretty much everything in the vending machine is barely breaking even,” Singh said, describing how the university managed to keep Plan B costs so low. “This is supposed to be a resource, not a profit-making mission.”
The vending machine began dispensing contraceptives on March 31; the university says it will soon have statistics about how many Plan B purchases students have made. UC Davis signed a three-year lease on the machine, Singh said.
In the past month, Singh said, three other universities have reached out about possibly introducing their own Plan B vending machines. And Singh said he’s considering pushing for a similar vending machine on every campus across the UC system.