By Dave Warner
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Federal authorities on Wednesday were investigating Shippensburg University's use of a vending machine to dispense morning-after pills to students on the central Pennsylvania campus.
The Food and Drug Administration's probe is aimed at determining whether the school vending machine is in line with a federal requirement that any female under age 17 have a prescription for the drug used after unprotected sex. Typically, Plan B emergency contraception is kept behind the counter so a pharmacist can check ID.
The decision to use a vending machine was made after school officials determined no one enrolled at Shippensburg is younger than 17, Roger Serr, vice president for student affairs at the 8,100-student state university, said in a statement.
While the vending machine has been employed for the past two years at the school, located 50 miles southwest of Harrisburg, it recently made headlines after it was noticed by local media, sparking the FDA investigation.
"We are working to gather the facts now, including contacting Pennsylvania state authorities and the university," said an FDA spokeswoman in a statement.
Located in the student health center, the vending machine is not accessible to anyone outside the school, said school spokesman Peter Gigliotti.
"You cannot be a 13-year-old and walk in and get it," Gigliotti said.
Serr also said the vending machine's presence on the campus is not a green light for sexual activity on campus.
"The university is not encouraging anyone to be sexually active," Serr said in a statement. "That is a decision each student makes on his or her own."
(Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Paul Thomasch)