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The automatic spending cuts demanded by the sequestration that kicked in March 1 go across the federal healthcare agencies. How will they affect continuing medical education and pharmaceutical meetings? Here are some possibilities.
Sequestration and Pharma Meetings
The Food and Drug Administration is facing $210 million in cuts this year—5 percent of fiscal 2013 budget. FDA said in a statement: “A sequestration of the magnitude contemplated, and this late in the budget year, will have public health consequences for an agency that is already making every dollar count. At this time, FDA does not anticipate having to furlough our employees. Other internal measures to absorb the cuts due to sequester will be taken, including reducing travel and training.”
The cuts also affect the FDA’s user fee programs under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which enables the agency to collect fees from pharma companies to fund the drug approval process. As it now stands, FDA can collect PDUFA fees, but it can’t spend them unless Congress rules these fees exempt from sequestration. The agency currently is sitting on $85 million in these fees.
According to a White House fact sheet, “The FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) would face delays in translating new science and technology into regulatory policy and decision-making, resulting in delays in new drug approvals. The FDA would likely also need to reduce operational support for meeting review performance goals, such as the recently negotiated user fee goals on new innovative prescription drugs and medical devices.” Delays in new drug approvals also mean delays in product launches.
Christopher Perez, CPC, president of the Alexander HealthCare Group, LLC, speaks for many when he says, “There is always a chilling effect of varying duration whenever a big program or policy like [sequestration] is implemented. It disrupts and complicates already complex market dynamics and creates many unintended consequences. Once again we find ourselves in a position of hunkering down and riding it out.”
Adds Lundberg, “The scary thing is appears to be that while sequestration was designed to force the political parties to negotiate, both seem to be easing into a comfort level with the cuts which could make this more permanent than temporary.”