White House Press Secretary Says Administration Doesn’t Know When Baby Formula Shortage Will End

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Westfield - Circa July 2021: Abbott Laboratories manufacturing facility. Abbott Labs is a healthcare company that makes medical devices and nutrition products.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday said the White House does not know when the federal government will allow an Abbott baby formula production facility to reopen after it was shut down by the FDA in February. That shutdown led to today’s current baby formula crisis.

“I don’t have any information about if anyone is on the plant.  Again, I can go back to our team and figure that out more specifically, but there are a lot of — what I can say is there are a lot of dates floating around out there.  But at the end of the day, the infant formula market is tight because the Michigan Abbott facility is offline currently, which is what we’re trying to do — this is the — the announcement that you guys will hear from FDA later today on how we’re helping them to do that,” Jean-Pierre said.

Hours later, the FDA approved the company’s Michigan plant to reopen, but Abbot said that process could take as long as two months before new formula hits store shelves.

That decision is still subject to court approval.

“Abbot has agreed to enter into a consent decree with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) related to its Sturgis, Mich., infant formula plant. The decree is an agreement between FDA and Abbott on the steps necessary to resume production and maintain the facility. This does not affect any other Abbott plant or operation. The decree is subject to court approval,” the company said on Monday.

“Our number one priority is getting infants and families the high-quality formulas they need, and this is a major step toward re-opening our Sturgis facility so we can ease the nationwide formula shortage. We look forward to working with the FDA to quickly and safely re-open the facility,” said Robert B. Ford, chairman and chief executive officer, Abbott. “We know millions of parents and caregivers depend on us and we’re deeply sorry that our voluntary recall worsened the nationwide formula shortage. We will work hard to re-earn the trust that moms, dads and caregivers have placed in our formulas for more than 50 years.”

Once the FDA confirms the initial requirements for start-up have been met, Abbott could restart the site within two weeks. The company would begin production of EleCare, Alimentum, and metabolic formulas first and then begin production of Similac and other formulas. From the time Abbott restarts the site, it will take six to eight weeks before the product is available on shelves.