OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- State health officials plan to stockpile thousands of doses of two antiviral drugs that could mean the difference between life and death for Oklahomans infected in a flu pandemic.
But the number of doses the Department of Health initially plans to buy is a mere fraction of what federal officials believe would be needed if the state was caught up in a global outbreak of Asian bird flu or some other new strain of influenza.
The Legislature this spring allocated $500,000 to buy doses of Tamiflu and another antiviral drug, Relenza, to stockpile for use during a pandemic. Combined with federal money, this would be enough to pay for about 35,000 courses of the drugs. A course is the supply needed to treat one person.
The state has the option of buying more than 368,000 courses of the drugs with 25 percent of the cost paid by the federal government.