WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is set to meet with infant formula makers as his administration works to ease nationwide shortages by importing foreign supplies and using the Defense Production Act to speed up the national production.
The White House said Biden will host a roundtable on Wednesday with executives from manufacturers ByHeart, Bubs Australia, Reckitt, Perrigo Co. and Gerber. The list is notable for who’s not on it: Abbott Nutrition, the company whose Michigan plant was shut down in February for safety reasons, triggering the shortage in the United States.
Biden will be joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
The meeting is expected to provide an update on what the administration has dubbed Operation Fly Formula to import formula from overseas into the United States and roll out the Korean War-era Production Act to requiring suppliers to formula manufacturers to prioritize their orders in an effort to ease any production bottlenecks.
These measures will help but not immediately end the formula supply shortages that have left formula-dependent people with empty shelves or purchase limits.
The Food and Drug Administration began focusing on Abbott’s plant last fall while tracking several bacterial infections in infants who had consumed formula from the facility. The four cases occurred between September and January, causing hospitalizations and two deaths.
After detecting positive samples of rare but dangerous bacteria in several parts of the plant, the FDA closed the facility and Abbott announced a mass recall of its formula on February 17.
US regulators and Abbott announced a deal last month that would help pave the way for the factory to reopen, although production has not restarted.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on why Abbott was not included in Wednesday’s meeting.