UNC students joined together Tuesday to protest a section of the proposed health care reform they said could drive up the cost of generic drugs.
The proposed legislation would extend the time drug makers can keep pharmaceutical data exclusive, preventing generics from entering the market. Generics give people cheaper alternatives than name-brand products.
The students protesting this part of the bill were part of a nationwide effort to alter the legislation by collecting petition signatures that they plan to send to the White House and to their respective legislators.
Similar protests occurred Tuesday at both Duke University and N.C. State University. At UNC, Eric Butter, a junior biostatistics major, organized the event.
“It is a really important issue that might not affect us now, but 10 years down the road it will be huge,” Butter said.
Congressional Budget Office studies show that after generic versions of drugs enter the market, prices of conventional drugs fall 40 to 80 percent, according to a packet distributed at the event.
Meredith Gilliam, a second-year medical student, said the event participants were trying to educate people, not just get them to sign on to their cause.
“We are not trying to pressure people into signing our petition. We just want to inform people so that they can form their own opinion,” she said.
Quang Pham, another second-year medical student, said they wanted to make sure the students’ voices were heard because legislators usually hear from pharmaceutical companies who spent $1.2 million a day in the last year while lobbying for their personal interests, Phan said.
Rachel Kramer, a graduate student studying health behavior and health education who was asked to sign the petition, said the volunteers had not persuaded her.
“I wished that they had given me more information,” she said.
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