Tight Budget Kept Texas from Buying More Flu Drugs

Associated Press - May 2, 2009 1:55 AM ET

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A budget compromise two years ago led Texas lawmakers to spend less on the stockpile of medicine that has proven effective in battling the effects of swine flu.

The federal government offered deep discounts at the time on Tamiflu and Relenza to increase the 3.3 million courses already allotted to Texas at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Strategic National Stockpile.

The Texas House initially appropriated $23 million for the medicine but a compromise with the Senate pared it down to $10 million for 840,000 courses. That's according to Representative Lois Kolkhorst, a Republican from Austin who is chairwoman of the House Public Health Committee.

There are 28 confirmed cases of swine flu in Texas amid concerns of a pandemic with origins in Mexico, where officials have confirmed 16 deaths and suspect that the virus has killed up to 168 people. Officials say one young boy from Mexico City died in Houston from effects of the swine flu.

The anti-virals Tamiflu and Relenza can't prevent swine flu, but have been effective in easing the symptoms.

Kolkhorst tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram "You know what they say about hindsight."

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