Baby milk crisis: Abbott says products from the shuttered factory won’t hit shelves until at least mid-July
Abbott Laboratories confirmed to Congress on Wednesday that the company expects its closed facilities to be at the heart of the infant formula shortage up and running within a week and a half, with a schedule for returning products from the factory to store shelves as soon as possible. In mid-July.
During his testimony before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, Abbott Nutrition President Christopher Calamari reiterated that the company’s Sturgis, Michigan facility, is set to resume production on June 4, and that it will take another six to eight weeks before making The formula in the plant will be available to desperate parents for purchase.
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That schedule is later than what lawmakers were previously told that products manufactured at Sturgis are expected to hit shelves again.
Earlier in the hearing, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf testified that Abbott told him that Sturgis infant formula could be “on the shelf as early as the end of June, possibly June 20 or 22, assuming they started [production] in the fourth.”
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President Biden recently invoked the Defense Production Act to address the shortages and his administration began shipping formula from abroad to alleviate the crisis.
Abbott’s Sturgis plant has been closed since February amid an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration into contamination concerns at the plant, after four children contracted the bacterial infection after ingesting a formula made at the facility. Two children died.
The company issued recalls for some factory-made products around the same time it closed, and acknowledges that these actions contributed significantly to infant formula shortages. Abbott is the largest infant formula manufacturer in the country, with a 40% market share. The Sturgis facility produced 40% of Abbott’s total formula prior to its closure.
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Abbott has agreed to perform several upgrades to the facility during the shutdown as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration, but stressed that all available data show no evidence that its formula is linked to infant illnesses.
Califf also assured lawmakers that his agency was unable to prove any such connection.
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Since the Michigan plant closed, Abbott says it has ramped up production at other facilities and shipped millions of cans of formula milk from its FDA-approved plant in Cowhill, Ireland.
Calamari told lawmakers that by the end of next month, he expects “the company will deliver in June more products than we did in January before the recall.”
Meanwhile, the rate of out of stock in the equation continues to rise, reaching 45% nationwide for the week ending May 15.