Purdue students will have increased access to contraceptives and hygiene products this semester thanks to a new initiative run by the Purdue College of Pharmacy.
Vending machines in the Cordova Recreational Sports Center and Wilmeth Active Learning Center will dispense condoms, emergency contraception comparable to Plan B tablets and other health products to students, in addition to the stores available at the University Pharmacy.
“We want to increase access to care in any way we can,” said Michelle Szabo, the graduate student in charge of the project.
The vending machines are on campus to reduce embarrassment for people buying reproductive health products, said Andrea DeMaria, a professor in the College of Health and Human Sciences.
“When I was in Italy, I noticed that there were many condom vending machines outside pharmacies that had 24-hour access,” Szabo said. “Both DeMaria and I had a common interest in the machines, so we did research to see if other universities had them.”
Szabo said Northwestern University, the University of Southern California and Yale University also have the machines on campus.
The products dispensed by the vending machines are cheaper than they would be at local stores, but still more expensive than they would be at the University Pharmacy due to operation and maintenance costs, DeMaria said.
She said the machines will be checked regularly by the Purdue Vending Service to ensure their products are not expired, damaged or empty.
DeMaria’s team plans to change the stock based on seasonal demand. She said this would include more cough drops in the fall and winter and more allergy products during the spring and summer.
“We are interested in growing more, but we do not want to grow too quickly,” DeMaria said.
Her team plans to receive feedback on the machines before it installs more. DeMaria said many residence halls have already expressed interest in having a machine in their buildings.