The prescription formula will be distributed to areas of the country where the need is greatest, a Biden administration official told CNN. But the official said none of the first shipments will land on store shelves in the United States, adding that Sunday’s shipment is hypoallergenic and will be given to babies with cow’s milk protein intolerance.
The shipment included 132 pallets of formula, which arrived on a C-17 cargo plane. The formula originated in Zurich, Switzerland, and was trucked to Germany, where it was loaded onto the C-17 and flown to the United States.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who welcomed the delivery’s arrival in Indianapolis, said Sunday’s shipment would provide enough formula for 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week. The White House said the shipment was equivalent to 1.5 million eight-ounce bottle doses.
“This is a big shipment of very specific, specialized formulas. Formulas for moms and dads who have kids with allergies where regular formula just won’t work,” the secretary said. at a press conference in Indianapolis shortly after the delivery arrived.
The Biden administration official told CNN earlier that the product in the first shipment will be distributed to hospitals, doctors, home care facilities and pharmacies in areas “where the need is greatest.” .
The plane was carrying pallets of the Nestlé Health Science formula, including Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior. At the arrival site in Indianapolis on Sunday, a Nestlé spokesperson said: “Some cases are ready for distribution in the coming days. Others will be released into the supply chain once quality testing is complete. standards completed”.
Frustration for American families
According to a spokesperson for MUSC, clinical dietitians at Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston reported that at least four babies had recently been hospitalized with complications related to the shortage of infant formula.
The spokesperson said three of the four babies were hospitalized due to an intolerance to formula which parents had to try due to shortages, while one was sickened by mineral imbalances from the caregivers mixing their own infant formula.
On Sunday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency over the national shortage of infant formula supplies.
A statement from his office said the move would “empower the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) to prevent price gouging for the formula.”
Retailers nationwide are struggling to keep shelves stocked as supply chain issues persist, slowing both production and distribution of goods.
Officials faced criticism that the FDA moved too slowly to address the warning signs. At the same time, they tried to find out if the formula makers were really short of ingredients, while trying to fight against possible price increases.
Vilsack said Sunday in Indianapolis that the federal government is working with infant formula suppliers in the United States to increase production and address the nationwide shortage.
The agriculture secretary also said a deal with the FDA would allow Abbott’s plant and others to “get a head start on the supplies needed and needed to produce the formula.”
More flights expected
“We’re going to keep increasing that until we get there,” Deese said.
Pressed by Bash on how the United States has found itself in a position where infant formula must be flown into the country, Deese partly blamed market consolidation.
“It comes down to this question of how can we bring more competition into our economy, get more suppliers to have this formula so that no single company has as much control over the supply chains,” he said. he declared.
The Biden administration official told CNN earlier that the product came from a factory that has already been approved by the US FDA – meaning US inspectors would only have to perform ‘spot checks’ Sunday after the product arrives. These checks include ensuring that the product has not been damaged during transport and that it bears appropriate labelling. An FDA inspector was on hand to perform the spot check. In addition, Nestlé will also carry out its own quality control at its local distribution site.
“This cargo is basically going to get off this cargo plane, and then the Federal Express people are going to take it from there, they’re going to deliver it to a distribution center that the Nestlé Gerber people have here in Indiana, and then it’s going to go in trucks and it will be delivered to hospitals and home care clinics across the country, offering support and help,” Vilsack said Sunday.
Additionally, the Biden administration is engaged in conversations with makers of other European infant formula to approve and obtain surplus supplies for distribution in the United States, the administration official told CNN.
Indianapolis was chosen as the destination for the formula because Nestlé’s distribution site is located there. The official added that the administration is plugging into the existing distribution chain.
“We’re turning a two-week process into 72 hours,” the manager said.
This story and title have been updated for additional developments.
CNN’s Sam Fossum, Kaitlan Collins, Brenda Goodman, Nadia Kounang, Jen Christensen, Parija Kavilanz, Ramishah Maruf and Zachary B. Wolf contributed to this report.