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Texas Legislature Urged To Fill Request For Antiviral Stockpiling

Armen Hareyan's picture

Avian Flu Pandemic

The Texas Legislature should fill the request by the Texas Department of State Health Services to protect a fourth of the state's population against an avian flu pandemic by purchasing an additional 2.3 million courses of antivirals at the Federally discounted price.

"Antiviral medications are the only approved medications that can prevent and also treat influenza during an epidemic. It's not a question of"if" but "when" a serious influenza epidemic will break out in the United States. We all have a stake in ensuring that antiviral medications are on stock and are utilized efficiently in Texas," said Dr. Lillibridge.

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The Texas Department of State Health Services is asking for an additional 2.3 million courses of medication, a figure recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Currently, the Texas House and Senate each are debating the issue. At this time, 33 states are at their recommended antiviral stockpile level (25% of their population). Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi are ahead of Texas in stockpiling antivirals. Eleven other states are in the process of acquiring more than 25 percent for their populations.

"It is time to ensure the survival of our population and our economy during a serious influenza epidemic by increasing the level of antiviral stockpiling in Texas. We can not afford to do otherwise," said Dr. Lillibridge.

For example, a report released last March by the Trust for America's Health predicted that a severe influenza pandemic would kill 146,000 Texas -- roughly equal to the population of Brownsville -- and cost Texas $55 billion in economic losses.