With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expected to see its budget slashed by close to $450 million, or about 8% of its total funding for FY2013, as part of the impending sequestration cuts, the agency’s ability to protect individuals from preventable infectious diseases is likely to be hampered. Analysts from research and consulting firm GlobalData argue that not only will the CDC be a less capable governmental body, but the cuts ultimately will fail to accomplish the goal of decreasing federal spending.
“Disease prevention represents the most economically viable method to reduce long-term healthcare costs,” says Christopher Pace, PhD, infectious disease analyst for GlobalData. “The incidence of chronic infections, such as viral hepatitis, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases would also be expected to increase with the elimination of prevention programs. These chronic infections require lifelong treatment that can become expensive,” he adds.
The sequestration’s effect on the CDC’s ability to prevent infectious disease through immunization, surveillance, and response programs will prove particularly damaging, according to GlobalData. The American Public Health Association has estimated that these reductions will prevent the vaccination of 30,000 children and 20,000 adults against largely preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, tetanus, and whooping cough.
The cuts also will affect the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. A report by the Senate Appropriations Committee Majority Staff estimates that around 650,000 fewer people would be tested for HIV, and 12,000 fewer uninsured, HIV-infected patients would receive therapy in 2013.
Brad Tebbets, PhD, also a member of GlobalData’s infectious disease team, says, “These decreases are not expected to have a major effect on the HIV therapy market, but the sequestration could push providers towards lower cost therapies, decreasing demand for high-priced HIV regimens, such as Gilead’s Stribild.”
Decreasing the CDC’s ability to prevent disease could also impede the recent shift of American medicine from treatment to prevention of disease—a move that has been championed as a method to lower healthcare costs in the long-term, according to GlobalData.
“The resulting increase in the incidence of preventable foodborne and infectious-disease illnesses would increase the demand for therapeutics, such as antiviral and antimicrobial drugs,” Tebbets says.
“This market growth would likely cost taxpayers more in the long term, both fiscally and physically, than any of the perceived short-term savings that would be realized as part of the sequestration.”
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