As the shortage continues, the FDA has worked with Abbott to allow them to release specific infant formulas for babies with different needs. Here's what to know.
The long-lasting formula shortage — that has led to many American parents struggling to figure out how to feed their hungry infants — just keeps getting worse. Between existing supply chain issues from the pandemic and a major recall from Abbott, a formula manufacturer, a few months ago that’s impacted a massive majority of available formula — and with the manufacturer still shuttered — many store shelves are bare of this essential food for babies. And there’s no end in sight – and the baby formula shortage is getting worse.
However, the FDA just said it would allow Abbott, the factory that has been shut down due to bacterial infections in infants being linked back to the facility, to release certain infant formulas on a “case-by-case” basis. Much of the formula that was recalled was a special formula, which makes it not available extremely troublesome to parents of infants who have specific nutritional needs. ”
“The FDA is concerned that the risk of not having a certain specialty and metabolic products available could significantly worsen underlying medical conditions and in some cases pose life-threatening risks for infants and individuals who rely on these products. In these circumstances, the benefit of allowing parents, in consultation with their healthcare providers, to access these products may outweigh the potential risk of bacterial infection,” the FDA said.
What specialty formulas will be available on a case-by-case basis and how can parents access them?
The specialty formulas that could be released by Abbott — the company has discretion on what they will release and when — are the following, per NBC Boston:
- Phenex-2 Vanilla
- Calcilo XD
- Similac PM 60/40
In order to order the specialty formulas, parents can call Abbott at 1-800-881-0876 to request the product. They can also work with their doctors as Abbott is working directly with hospitals and doctors. These formulas are reported to be free of charge.
As previously reported, baby formula shortage alarms have been firing off since about January of 2022 and the crisis has only worsened. According to Datassembly, 40 percent of the top-selling baby formula products were out of stock the week ending April 24.
That number is up significantly since April 13, when it sat at 29 percent — still an incredibly high percentage. And for some perspective as for how bad it’s become, that number was only 11 percent in November. And while that’s bad, it can be even worse depending on where you live.
In a tweet thread, Helena Bottemiller Evich, the senior food and agricultural reporter for Politico, pointed out that the national average obscures how bad outages are in some states vs others. In fact, as of “April 24, there were 6 states that had baby formula out-of-stock rates higher than 50 percent… Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota were 50-51%. Missouri was 52%. Texas was 53% and Tennessee was 54%,” she reported.
While there are many causes for the shortage — (American Prospect reporting, for example, pointed to the fact that just four companies control 89 percent of the baby formula in the U.S. market and that has exacerbated the existing supply problems) — the reality is that until the shortage is resolved or lessened, parents will be continuing to struggle.