Formula supply could improve ‘within days’
Parents and caregivers struggling to find infant formula should notice an improvement in the product’s availability on shelves “within days,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told a subcommittee on Thursday. from the room.
Driving the news: Relief should come from higher production by manufacturers and increased imports, Califf said. President Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act requiring “suppliers to direct necessary resources to infant formula manufacturers ahead of any other customers who may have ordered that product.”
- “In a few days it will be better, but it will be a few weeks before we get back to normal,” Califf said.
Catch up fast: The United States is struggling with a nationwide shortage of infant formula due to pandemic-induced supply chain issues and a recent product recall.
- Retailers across the country reported that about 40% of infant formula was missing from store shelves.
- The House voted on Wednesday to pass an emergency spending bill to give the FDA $28 million to help address the shortage and hire more inspectors to move formula through stores faster. The Senate has yet to take action.
Background: While supply chain issues have hampered formula production, the problem escalated earlier this year when Abbott Nutrition closed a Michigan plant that is crucial to supplying the nation’s formula supply.
- A suspected link to the deaths of two infants from bacterial infections prompted the closure. The company said it found “no evidence” linking its formula to diseases.
- The FDA is still investigating, Califf told lawmakers Thursday, noting that the agency’s inspection of the facility in late January found “significant operational deficiencies.”
- The FDA and Abbott reached an agreement earlier this week to reopen the plant, but it will be several more weeks before production can get the formula to stores.
- “I think we’re on track to have it open within the week to two weeks,” Califf said of the plant.
Zoom out: In his testimony, Califf declined to answer questions from committee members about why the agency did not respond sooner to a whistleblower complaint outlining problems at the plant last fall.
Go further… Biden invokes Defense Production Act to address formula shortage