Much-needed relief could be on the way for caretakers amid the nationwide baby formula shortage.
Democrats on Tuesday announced an emergency spending bill that includes $28 million in funding to address the crisis, much of which aims to specifically support the Food and Drug Administration as it struggles to respond to the shortage.
“This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “While we know we have more work to do to get to the bottom of serious safety concerns at an Abbott facility and the FDA’s failure to address them with any sense of urgency, this bill is the first step to help restock shelves and end this shortage.”
The shortage, which has been steadily climbing since the start of 2021, exploded in February when Abbott, the leading manufacturer of baby formula in the United States, was forced to shut down its Sturgis, Michigan, formula plant after several babies became sick with bacterial infections. The plant shutdown, the resulting recall of Abbott’s baby formula products, and wider supply chain issues quickly gave way to the current emergency. Families have reported having to drive for hours in search of food for their infants; many have resorted to rationing and making homemade formula—both of which pediatricians strongly advise against.
On Monday, the FDA announced that it had reached a deal with Abbott to reopen the formula plant in about two weeks. The latest legislation comes days after Biden announced additional measures to help ease the shortage. But as I wrote last week, those steps, while encouraging, were largely limited and did little to answer the most pressing question looming over families right now: when we can start seeing empty shelves replenished.
A vote on Tuesday’s bill is expected later this week.