Sometimes vending machine operators are faced with ethical dilemmas. One in nine US women use the morning after pill as a contraceptive device. There are machines at one Pennsylvania college that dispense the pills.
The morning after pill is basically a high potency birth control pill that prevents ovulation. It must be taken within a few days after intercourse. Most users are white women who have higher education. They take the pill because they forgot to take preventative measures or they are worried that the method they had used failed, such as a broken condom. The morning after pill was approved for usage fifteen years ago.
When I first heard about these types of pills being vended I thought that the controversy that would arise would be from the right to life advocates. These pills are viewed by some as abortion pills.
One source said that he didn’t think you could go to a college in the United States and not be able to obtain information about these pills on campus. Those under seventeen are required to have a prescription for the pills.
There are at least five brands of the pills available on the US market and they cost from thirty five to sixty dollars a dosage at a pharmacy depending on the company that makes them.These pills are sold over the counter so an insurer would only pay for some or all of the cost without a doctor’s prescription.
About one in four women in their early twenties have taken a morning after pill. Women who were never married were more likely to take the pill at one in five, and then married women at one in twenty.
In a survey of 12,000 women fifty nine percent claimed to have taken it once, twenty four percent said they took it twice, and seventeen percent said they used the pill three or more times.Women who use the morning after pill three or more times probably need some guidance or counseling regarding a different method of birth control, although it is certainly an advance over actual abortions as a means of birth control, depending on your convictions and ideology. But just in terms of physiological and psychological impact on the woman it is preferable to abortion.
From a lay perspective I would imagine that right to life individuals would still consider a morning after pill as an abortion pill. I think it would be a lot less traumatic for the women involved though. Largely the controversy with these pills being vended is that there are certain side affects but no long term or serious side effects. They are safe for almost every woman.
Slight nausea, headaches, tired, dizzy, lower abdominal cramps, and tender breasts. Dramamine is recommended an hour before taking the contraceptive pill and it is also recommended that if a woman takes a morning after pill and vomits within one hour of taking the dose she should repeat it just to make sure that it has been absorbed.
The warnings would be on the packaging of the pills being vended along with instructions of course but there would be no verbal instructions from a pharmacist and that was probably what the controversy was about regarding medication dispensed through a vending machine.
However, you can now get prescriptions dispensed in hospital trauma centers and emergency rooms. There is a service called InstyMeds that does just that. The patient enters a security code that details there prescriptions and insurance coverage. Naturally pharmacists object to a machine replacing their knowledge and expertise. InstyMeds stresses that it is not a replacement for pharmacies but rather something that can cut down wait times in an emergency.
A study done by InstyMeds show that 90% of patients that use their machine actually fill their prescriptions as opposed to 30% that go unfilled the traditional way. As well, most calls about medication and script involve insurance questions rather than questions about how to take the medication and possible side effects.
Regardless, this seems like it will be a growing trend. It could cut prescription costs by reducing the dispensing fee. There might be increased access because of a twenty four hour trauma center when you could fill a prescription at any time. So there are likely opportunities and challenges in a new frontier for savvy and forward thinking vending machine operators.