WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) released the following statement today in response to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ announcement regarding preparation for a possible swine flu pandemic:

“I was pleased to learn this morning that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has moved forward with one of the recommendations in the letter I sent to Secretary Sebelius on Tuesday. This morning HHS ordered 12 million courses of antivirals to replenish the national stockpile.

“Maintaining the stockpile of enough antiviral drugs for 25 percent of the population is a critical component of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza (NSPI) and will be our nation’s first line of defense as the H1N1 influenza virus continues to spread.

“As I said in my letter to Secretary Sebelius, I strongly encourage HHS to move forward with purchasing antivirals for prophylaxis use by health care workers and first responders. HHS has published guidance on antiviral drug use during an influenza pandemic and it is important to begin implementing this plan as soon as possible.

“HHS has nearly $1.3 billion in unspent funds that Congress appropriated back in 2007 that can be used for research and development of a vaccine to match the H1N1 virus as well as to purchase additional antivirals to treat patients until a vaccine is available. I will continue to monitor this situation closely, and as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will work to make sure additional funding is made available as needed for pandemic preparedness.”