STATES WARN OF MONEY PROBLEMS FOR BIRD FLU DRUGS
Money for buying antivirals for the bird flu is an issue in some states. Thefederal government wants to stockpile enough antiflu drugs to treat 25% ofthe population in an influenza pandemic. Lastmonth, states had to indicate how many antiviralsthey planned to buy and stockpile througha federal contract that makes the drugs availableto states at a reduced cost. States mustconfirm those numbers by December 29, 2006,to guarantee a federal subsidy covering 25% ofthe cost.
The federal government intends to buy 44 million antiviral courses for thestates 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 purchasetheir allotments or requested that the drugs be reserved. Other states' officialshave forewarned that funding is uncertain. Colorado, Connecticut, Montana,Nebraska, and North Dakota officials have said that they most likely will notbuy full allocations. Others have expressed concerns that purchasing thedrugs is not the best use of limited public health resources.