May 19, 2022

Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Urge President Biden to Rapidly Implement National Strategy to Address Infant Formula Crisis, Prevent Future Shortages

Senators in letter to President Biden: "We cannot stop working on this issue until babies are fed."

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley this week joined colleagues in urging President Biden to immediately assign a coordinator within the White House to work with manufacturers directly and oversee the development and implementation of a national strategy for increasing the resiliency of the infant formula supply chain and protecting against future contamination and shortages. 

The senators asked that the national strategy rapidly address immediate needs associated with the shortage, including identifying specific action steps and deadlines for addressing the shortage. The also asked that it provide critical information to parents and caregivers, including where to find formula, how to transition from one formula to another, if needed, and what to do if a medical or specialty formula is unavailable. 

"We were encouraged to see FDA take steps this week to address the formula shortage. Recent actions taken by the Administration to boost formula imports and expand the list of products that parents and caregivers can buy under WIC are critical interventions. And FDA’s efforts to safely reopen Abbott’s manufacturing plant and use enforcement discretion with respect to certain specialty formulas that have been held pending the investigation are important steps to boost supply," Wyden, Merkley and the senators wrote to President Biden. "But these steps alone are not enough, and the federal government needs to do more to get formula back on shelves as soon as possible and secure the supply chain of infant formula to prevent this type of crisis from happening again. These actions require a government-wide response, as the issue spans food supply chain security, regulatory oversight, public health surveillance, market competition, government contracting, and more."

". . . The COVID-19 pandemic has put an immense strain on parents and caregivers—and this shortage is only worsening the challenges families are facing. We need organized leadership and a clear plan for addressing this crisis. We cannot stop working on this issue until babies are fed." 

The senators also asked that the administration outline a long-term strategy that allows for better information-sharing across federal, state, and local governments regarding shortages, improved and ongoing coordination with manufacturers and retailers, and measures for protecting the safety and integrity of the formula supply. 

Along with Wyden and Merkley, the letter -- which was led by U.S. Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Bob Casey, D-Penn. -- was signed by 28 other senators.

The full text of the letter is here.