President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act Wednesday to direct the federal government to prioritize key ingredients for the production of infant formula amid a nationwide shortage. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool | License Photo
May 18 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to address a nationwide shortage of infant formula.
By invoking the 1950 law, Biden has directed the federal government to prioritize key ingredients for formula production and compel suppliers to provide resources to formula manufacturers before any other customers that have ordered those supplies, according to the White House.
"Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up in supply chains," the White House said.
Biden also directed the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Defense to deploy commercial aircraft to pick up and deliver infant formula from overseas.
The nation has been experiencing an infant formula shortage since Abbott Nutrition, the largest infant formula manufacturer in the United States, announced a recall of several lines of powdered formula on Feb. 17, after they were linked to infections in infants.
On Monday, Abbott and the Food and Drug Administration reached an agreement to re-open its shuttered Sturgis, Mich., facility where the recalled formula was produced.
Abbott Chairman and CEO Robert B. Ford said on Monday that the company could restart production at Sturgis within two weeks once the FDA confirms the initial requirements have been met. However, he warned it would take six to eight weeks before products reach store shelves.
Last week, Biden met with manufacturers and retailers of infant formula and announced it would expand the variety of formula products that can be purchased with WIC benefits, import products from Mexico, Chile, Ireland and the Netherlands, and direct the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys to crack down on price gouging and unfair market practices related to the sale of infant formula.
House Democrats on Tuesday introduced the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, which would give the FDA an additional $28 million, dedicated to helping inspect baby formula before it hits store shelves to prevent future shortages.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks about reproductive rights as she virtually meets with abortion providers in the South Auditorium on Thursday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo