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EXCLUSIVE: More than 100 House Republicans are calling on the Biden administration and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to immediately address the current formula shortage that has left parents scrambling to feed their infants.
Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee led a letter with 106 GOP lawmakers at the White House and FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf on Wednesday seeking data on shortages at the nationwide and demanding answers on what the administration is doing to remedy empty store shelves. .
“This matter is a matter of life and death, and it’s time for this administration to address it with the appropriate urgency it deserves,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter first obtained by Fox News Digital.
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Parents across the country were left in panic and despair as supply disruptions and a massive safety recall by manufacturer Abbott created widespread shortages. For the first week of May, the nationwide out-of-stock percentage for infant formula rose to 43%, according to Datasembly, which tracks product data for retailers. That’s up from 30% in early April.
“This issue has been compounded by supply chain challenges, product recalls and historic inflation,” Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “The category began to experience storage issues from July 2021, and the situation continued to worsen in 2022.”
In February, Abbott recalled powdered formula sold under the Similac, Alimentum and EleCare brands after four infants suffered from bacterial infections, two of whom died. Abbott closed its Sturgis, Michigan plant that produced the formula.
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The White House and the FDA said they were working to address the shortages.
“Making sure infant formula is safe and available to families across the country is a top priority for the White House and this administration,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the senior deputy press secretary for the White House, said Wednesday. White House.
She said infant formula sales in April were up about 10% from March and consumers should be able to find general powdered infant formula in stores as the FDA works with industry to maximize production capacities and supply lines at home and abroad.
“This is an urgent issue that the FDA, as you all know, and the White House are working on 24/7,” Jean-Pierre told reporters.
The FDA on Tuesday released an update on its plan to address formula shortages. In a statement to Fox News Digital, the agency said it was “using every tool available” to ensure access to safe products. The agency said it was working closely with Abbott to resume the safe resumption of production at the Sturgis plant.
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“Our top priority is to ensure that any recalled product stays off the market and we are working with the United States Department of Agriculture and manufacturers to ensure parents have access to alternative and safe infant formulas,” said the FDA in a statement to Fox. News Digital Tuesday. “We will and must continue to focus on taking all possible steps to protect the health of those who depend on safe powdered infant formula.”
Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced Wednesday that they will convene a hearing on formula shortages on May 25.
Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, DN.J., said he commends the Biden administration and the FDA’s recent actions to increase supply. The objective of the hearing will be to better understand the causes of the shortages and what remains to be done.
“National infant formula shortages are increasingly alarming and demand the immediate attention of Congress,” Pallone said in a statement.
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But Republicans on the committee – led by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington – say the Biden administration was “too late” to address the shortages. They submitted a series of questions to the Administration about the extent of the problem.
“Infant formula shortages are an urgent issue that must be addressed immediately,” the lawmakers wrote. “House Republicans are calling on the administration to do more to help parents across the country.”
Fox News’ Kelly Laco contributed to this report.