Published Online: Friday, September 1, 2006

Money for buying antivirals for the bird flu is an issue in some states. The federal government wants to stockpile enough antiflu drugs to treat 25% of the population in an influenza pandemic. Last month, states had to indicate how many antivirals they planned to buy and stockpile through a federal contract that makes the drugs available to states at a reduced cost. States must confirm those numbers by December 29, 2006, to guarantee a federal subsidy covering 25% of the cost.

The federal government intends to buy 44 million antiviral courses for the states this fiscal year and next. The amount would cover 17% of the population. The government wants states to buy 31 million more courses, to reach 25%.

As of press time, officials of 43 states said that they planned to purchase their allotments or requested that the drugs be reserved. Other states' officials have forewarned that funding is uncertain. Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota officials have said that they most likely will not buy full allocations. Others have expressed concerns that purchasing the drugs is not the best use of limited public health resources.

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