College Campus Allows Vending Machine That Will Dole Out Prescription Drugs

By McCarton Ackerman 11/17/14

Arizona State University has okayed InstyMeds machines on its campus.

drug vending machine.jpg
Asking for trouble. Photo via

Vending machines aren’t just for soda and candy anymore. After the drug store at the health services building in Arizona State University was closed last September, school officials are set to replace it with a vending machine that will dispense prescription medication.

The InstyMeds vending machine will be available for students and university employees with approved prescription to use next month. Customers will be given a voucher with unique ID information and a 24-hour-only code that can transfer over a secure connection from the prescription doctor to the machine. Instymeds also addressed drug abuse concerns in saying that their equipment is alarmed and alerts authority whenever a tampering incident takes place.

ASU is now the second university to install the machine, with Florida State University being the first to take the plunge. Although ASU officials wouldn’t specify which drugs the vending machine will dispense, they confirmed the 50 medications most commonly prescribed to college students will be available. "Serving the health-care needs of our students is still our highest priority,” said Allan Markus, Director of ASU Health Services, in a statement. "We believe the measures we have taken will help our students with their prescription needs.”

Of course, the concerns of drug abuse are warranted as the last 10 years have seen a huge spike in college students taking ADHD drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. Studies have found that up to 35% of college students take non-prescribed stimulants to help them maximize study time. A 2009 study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health also found that full-time college students were twice as likely to take ADHD medications without a prescription than students who went to school part-time.

"When we look at upperclassmen, the number really begins to jump," said Alan DeSantis, a professor at the University of Kentucky. "The more time you stay on campus, the more likely you are to use."

Some colleges have taken steps to address this issue. Marist College and Fresno State now require students who are prescribed ADHD meds to sign contracts promising not to misuse pills or share them. Some colleges, including George Mason and William and Mary, forbid school clinicians from prescribing stimulants entirely, instead referring students to off-campus providers.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.