Sat, 02 Jul 2022

Abbott baby formula plant in Michigan to re-open within weeks

Robert Besser
24 May 2022, 02:48 GMT+10

WASHINGTON D.C.: Following baby formula shortages throughout the United States, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf has said that Abbott Laboratories and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are on track to reopen Abbott's baby formula manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, within one to two weeks.

Abbott, the largest supplier of powder infant formula in the U.S. and the FDA agreed on the steps needed to resume production at the plant.

"I am pleased to say today we have already made significant progress and I think we are on track to get it open within the next week to two weeks, most likely at the outer bound two weeks," Califf told a U.S. House of Representatives panel.

After reports of infections in four infants, the company recalled infant formula products and closed the plant in February, worsening a shortage among multiple manufacturers.

The FDA, which launched its investigation following consumer complaints, has not yet concluded whether the cases of ill babies were related to the Abbott plant, Califf said.

"Abbott has remedied a number of issues, after three days of working closely with the FDA," he added.

After a country-wide formula shortage, which left parents scrambling to feed their babies, the U.S. government searched for short-term fixes, while grappling with longer-term solutions.

This week, President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to help manufacturers obtain ingredients to ramp up supply, and directed national agencies to use Defense Department-contracted commercial aircraft to bring formula into the U.S. from overseas.

Also this week, the House passed two bills, including one providing $28 million in emergency FDA funds, which was supported by 219 Democrats and 12 Republicans and opposed by 192 Republicans.

The second bill aimed at ensuring low-income families can continue using their benefits to buy formula under a federal program for women, infants and children, known as "WIC," which passed 414-9.

Both bills still face votes in the Senate.

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