Company says it could restart production of baby formula within weeks amid severe shortage
The leading baby formula manufacturer in the United States says it could restart production within two weeks amid a nationwide shortage of the product.
Abbott Laboratories in February recalled some of the products it manufactures, including Similac products, after complaints that some youngsters had developed bacterial infections.
Now a string of US retailers, including Target Corp, CVS Health Corp and Walgreens Boots Alliance, have introduced a limit on purchases of infant formula.
It comes as Joe Biden was set to discuss the issue and ways to address the shortage with manufacturers on Thursday.
White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday described the shortage as an “urgent issue” and said the administration was working hard to obtain more product.
“Ensuring that infant formula is safe and available for families across the country is a top priority to the White House and this administration,” she said.
“We know that Abbott’s voluntary recall of infant formula products has led to some Americans being unable to access infant formula and other critical medical food supply.”
According to a report from Datasembly, the out-of-stock rate of baby formula in the US was 43 per cent for the week ending 8 May, up from 40 per cent the week before.
This rate is up from between two and eight per cent in the first half of 2021, when the supply of formula was stable.
Abbott says it will first restart the production of EleCare, Alimentum and metabolic formulas, followed by Similac and other brands after it was given approval by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
It says that once production restarts it will take between six and eight weeks for the formula to hit the shelves.
The FDA says that several other manufacturers are meeting or exceeding their production capacity to meet demand.
“We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement.