The Biden administration announced Wednesday afternoon it is invoking the Defense Production Act and facilitating the import of infant formula to ease the shortages that have affected families nationwide and led to the hospitalization of children. The shortages have been occurring for months since the FDA shut down an Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan last February leading to shortages of about 40 percent of the nation’s supply of infant formula, however the Biden administration waited until this week to take decisive action.
The FDA and Abbott reached an agreement this week on a plan to reopen the plant that will tale weeks if not months to formula to return to shelves. Meanwhile Abbott says it is taking steps to make up for some of the shortages.
Joe Biden filmed a teleprompter speech released by the White House to accompany the announcement.
I’m taking two new steps to increase baby formula supply:
– Invoking the Defense Production Act to increase domestic production
– Launching Operation Fly Formula to use federal planes to fly formula in from abroad
We're making sure safe formula gets to all who need it. pic.twitter.com/lnkxsaCY6T
— President Biden (@POTUS) May 18, 2022
Just now, President Biden announced two additional actions – invoking the Defense Production Act and launching Operation Fly Formula – to speed up the import of infant formula and get more formula to stores as soon as possible. pic.twitter.com/4Ss9H2T7BO
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 18, 2022
During the infant formula shortage caused by Abbott Nutrition’s voluntary recall, the President has directed his team to do everything possible to ensure that there is enough safe infant formula in the country and available for families that need it.
Today, President Biden is announcing additional actions to get more formula into the United States and onto store shelves.
Invoking the Defense Production Act. To ensure that manufacturers have the necessary ingredients to make safe, healthy infant formula here at home, President Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA). The President is requiring suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good. Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up in supply chains.
Launching Operation Fly Formula. To speed up the import of infant formula and get more formula to stores as soon as possible, President Biden has directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use Department of Defense (DOD) commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards, so it can get to store shelves faster. DOD will use its contracts with commercial air cargo lines, as it did to move materials during the early months of the COVID pandemic, to transport products from manufacturing facilities abroad that have met Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety standards. Bypassing regular air freighting routes will speed up the importation and distribution of formula and serve as an immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production.
Earlier this week, FDA and Abbott agreed on next steps to reopen Abbott’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan, which was closed due to concerns about bacterial contamination after four infants fell ill. FDA also announced guidance that will allow major formula manufacturers to safely import formula that is not currently being produced for the U.S. market. The Administration continues to urge states to cut red tape and implement WIC flexibility, as USDA wrote to states in a letter last week. The Administration remains in close touch with manufacturers and retailers to identify transportation and logistical needs to increase the amount and speed of FDA approved formula being shipped into the country, and ensure that formula is quickly moving from factories to retailers.
Today’s steps further underscore the Administration’s commitment to addressing the formula shortage quickly and safely, and the Administration will continue working overtime to get more formula to stores as soon as possible.
On Tuesday news broke that two young children in Memphis, Tennessee were hospitalized due to getting sick from the lack of specialty formula.
Earlier Tuesday the White House had tweeted out a photo of empty formula shelves at a store.
.@KMunoz46 on the Biden administration's baby formula plan: "We absolutely need to work on how we to get more product into the market that's safe and effective from other countries. So, the FDA is working very hard to provide that guidance." @wcnc https://t.co/0wPSiAHRQ8
— Dhara Nayyar (@DharaNayyar46) May 17, 2022