FRIDAY, May 20, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A baby formula plant closed in February at the heart of the current U.S. shortage of the product could reopen as soon as next week, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D., told House lawmakers on Thursday.
The Abbott Nutrition Michigan formula plant is the largest in the nation, and it was closed due to contamination issues.
Earlier this week, the FDA announced a preliminary deal with Abbott to restart production if safety upgrades and certifications are met. However, even after production resumes, it could take about two months before new formula from the plant starts appearing on store shelves, Abbott has said.
“We had to wrestle this to ground with Abbott,” Califf told members of the House Appropriations subcommittee, the Associated Press reported. “I think we are on track to get it open within the next week to two weeks.” Califf is the first Biden administration official to testify before Congress on the shortage, which has left some parents desperate to find formula and has become a huge political issue.
The Abbott plant was shuttered after the FDA began looking into four bacterial infections in infants who had consumed formula from the plant. Earlier this week, Califf said the investigation is ongoing and has not yet determined whether bacteria from the plant caused the infections. Abbott has said there is no direct evidence linking its products to the illnesses.
At Thursday’s appearance before the House subcommittee, Califf evaded questions about why the FDA waited until February to begin its investigation when the first infant infection was reported in September, the AP reported.
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