There are no answers from government and business, other than parents who can’t find formula should call their pediatricians.
Business angles. Shutting down one single factory exacerbated pandemic-related supply chain issues and supercharged this nationwide shortage — even though only certain batches of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered infant formulas were actually recalled in February.
More than half of formula is out of stock in eight states and the District of Columbia, according to a new report from Datasembly, a real-time data tracking agency.
Protection angles. The government bureaucracy’s effort to protect babies, paired with tons of regulation and restriction on formula from other countries, has made adjusting to the shortage nearly impossible for many families.
The Biden administration is defending the FDA as Republicans seek to cast blame. The FDA’s stringent requirements for formula mean that even formula from Europe, which has its own standards, often cannot be sold in the US.
Now, you knew it was coming … politics angles. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was among the Republicans to blame President Joe Biden for the shortage.
It is a shift for Republicans, normally arguing for less government intervention, to now be criticizing the White House for being slow to intervene.
This is the tradeoff. The federal regulators Americans expect to keep products safe also need to keep them available, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged this week.
She said the FDA is working with formula manufacturers to ensure their increased production, ease supply lines and get formula to those who need it most. But they won’t be rushing things, she said.
“I’d go back to why this decision was made in the first place, which was to save babies’ lives,” Psaki told reporters on Thursday. “And the FDA is not going to approve manufacturing again unless they are certain of the safety.”
But she had no concrete answers for parents running out of formula.
And no, there does not appear to be a strategic national reserve of baby formula like there is for personal protective equipment or petroleum.
Desperate searches. None of what’s above is going to make Darice Browning feel any better. She’s the Oceanside, California, woman who appeared on HLN’s “Morning Express” on Wednesday to explain how her children, both of whom have severe allergies to dairy, will get the formula they need.
Browning said she’s ignoring the FDA warnings and giving her kids EleCare infant formula, even though it has been recalled by Abbott.
“It will last maybe two or two-and-a-half weeks,” she said. “Everybody is saying you might open these plants back up in six to eight weeks, but I don’t have that kind of time. What am I going to do?”