Baby Formula Supplier Lied, FDA Waited Months to Take Action: Rep. DeLauro

"The company [Abbott Nutrition] was aware of the failure and they attempted to hide that information from the FDA and the FDA just dragged their feet in making this public,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro.

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Parents in Connecticut have been desperately searching for baby formula for months after a nationwide recall led to supply issues. Store shelves are bare, websites are sold out and parents need help.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) has been on a mission to get to the bottom of why she claims Abbott Nutrition knowingly sold a contaminated product, why it took the FDA so long to intervene and what the government can do right now to increase supply for parents.

In October, a whistleblower sent a report to the FDA claiming Abbott Nutrition was selling a contaminated product and they falsified records in an attempt to hide it, according to Rep. DeLauro.

In December, the FDA interviewed the whistleblower and in February the baby formula was recalled.

By then, several children were sick, hospitalized, and two babies died.

“I’m looking at company who has put profit over people and it’s playing wrong. The company was aware of the failure and they attempted to hide that info from the FDA and the FDA just dragged their feet in making this public,” said Rep. DeLauro.

Rep. Delauro called on the inspector general to open an investigation into the FDA.

In the U.S., there’s been so much consolidation that only four companies control 95% of the market. Abbott makes up 43%. So that’s why this recall led to such a major supply issue.

DeLauro said she understands the urgent need now for parents to get access for formula. That’s why she has been pushing the USDA to allow formula from overseas to be sold in the U.S., as long as it’s FDA approved. There are seven facilities in Europe and two in Mexico, according to DeLauro.

“Parents should not have to choose between the supply of the product and food safety. That is unconscionable,” said DeLauro.

On Monday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal spoke at the Diaper Bank of Connecticut in North Haven.

“What we know from our work is that so many families with young children already did not have access to formula because they could not afford it and this supply chain issue impacts them even more severely,” said Janet Stolfi Alfano, the executive director of the Diaper Bank of Connecticut.

Parents can’t afford the formula because there is so much price gouging going on.

“This can of Similac which was available on Ebay at $30, now is at about $80 in some instances. That is absolutely inexcusable, horrendous, unacceptable,” said Sen. Blumenthal.

Blumenthal also said he is pushing to diversify the supply in the U.S. and he sent a letter to the secretary of the USDA “to reexamine the way the WIC program is run because it may be contributing to the concentration in this industry through sole-source contracts,” said Blumenthal.

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