Vending machines with over-the-counter medications, contraceptives and personal-care products are being installed in campus spaces, following a recommendation from a university task force and input from student leaders.
The machines are intended to increase access to affordable health and wellness products, particularly items that may be needed discreetly, urgently or after hours, such as naloxone nasal spray for suspected opioid overdoses, and emergency contraception for pregnancy prevention following unprotected sex. Rapid antigen COVID-19 tests also are available.
Two machines have been installed in the initial rollout: on the fourth floor of the Michigan Union on the Ann Arbor campus, and on the second floor of the Renick University Center at UM-Dearborn. Later this month, a machine will be installed on the UM-Flint campus on the second floor of the Harding Mott University Center.
“We know people may seek some of these products while in a state of distress, so ensuring they can comfortably and quickly get the items is essential,” said Susan Ernst, chief of gynecology and sexual health at University Health Service and the campus lead for U-M’s reproductive rights task force.
“Both naloxone and emergency contraception boxes have special QR codes connecting students or other customers to directions and other important resources for further support.”
Also available are pain relievers, bandages, tampons and other common over-the-counter pharmacy items. Once it is available from manufacturers, the new over-the-counter oral contraceptive pill also will be added.
The vending machines grew out of a recommendation from a U-M task force that was charged with planning for the consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned previous rulings legalizing abortion nationwide and leaving its regulation up to individual states.
“These machines are an excellent example of health promotion in action,” said Robert Ernst, chief health officer, executive director of UHS and associate vice president for health and wellness in Student Life. “By bringing these products into the campus environment, we are living up to our goal to be a health-promoting university.”
Work is underway to install additional machines on the Ann Arbor campus. Usage and feedback on all of the machines will be carefully monitored as future locations are considered.
Wolverine Wellness partnered with UHS to bring the machines to U-M. The UHS pharmacy provides some medications at lower cost for the machines. As machines are added, a list of locations will be available on the UHS website.