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05/27/2022

NACDS shares update on formula shortage, Enfamil maker reportedly eyeing sale

The organization shared information with healthcare providers and parents in light of the infant formula shortage, and the maker of Enfamil is reportedly going forward with a sale of its business.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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In light of the infant formula shortage, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson is informing its members that The Biden Administration is asking community leaders and healthcare providers to help disseminate important information to parents in light of the ongoing supply shortage of infant formula.

In a statement, Anderson noted that the organization is committed to doing its part to share this information broadly with the industry through this notice and social media engagement. At a briefing, Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, outlined the following key messages for parents of infants:

  • For most infants, using a different brand of infant formula than what they are used to is an appropriate alternative. All formulas on retailers’ shelves are safe for babies that do not have special, medical requirements for certain formulas;
  • Parents should not water down infant formula, which when used as labeled, is nutritionally complete;
  • Parents should not attempt to make their own formula;
  • Parents should not use toddler formula, which is formulated for toddler’s nutritional needs, to feed infants;
  • Parents should call their pediatrician with any questions about feeding their infant.
  • HHS has developed tools and resources to help parents find formula;
  • Online recipes to make homemade infant formula are not safe nor nutritionally complete; and
  •  Parents should not trust or use online recipes.

[Read more: NACDS shares updates on next steps to increase availability of infant formula]

The following HHS resources are available for community leaders, healthcare providers and other stakeholders to communicate widely in their respective communities:

  • Baby Formula do’s & don’ts graphic which includes tips for those having trouble finding formula;
  • Baby Formula Q&A that is live on IG Stories that covers why the shortage occurs, what the Administration is doing, reshares the do’s & don’ts graphic, and directs people to the HHS site here; and
  • Surgeon General and the First Lady of the United States video provides support to parents and outlines what the Administration is doing to address the infant formula shortage.

Additionally, the FDA provided an update indicating that the flexibilities announced by the agency last week (i.e. importation of certain infant formulas from abroad and flexibilities for certain domestically manufactured infant formula products) are already being utilized by some companies — which the organization expects to yield millions of cans of infant formula in the coming months.

In an update from FDA, the agency outlined steps it has taken just this week to bolster U.S. supply and make millions of cans of additional infant and specialty formula being available to consumers, as well as insights on how efforts are being ramped up nationally and internationally to begin filling shelves across America. In addition, the organization shared that it further anticipates that additional infant formula products may be safely and quickly imported into the United States in the near-term based on ongoing discussions with manufacturers and suppliers worldwide.

The following is a list of actions that the Congress and the Biden Administration have taken to date to help alleviate the infant formula supply shortage:

  • Already, some international made infant formula has arrived in the U.S. to meet critical needs following this FDA action and invocation of the Defense Production Act by President Biden that authorized military assistance to airlift hypoallergenic formula from Europe to be distributed via hospitals and home healthcare companies.
  • The U.S. House and Senate Committees continue to hold hearings to investigate the infant formula shortage that has affected the nation. Last week, the House passed a pair of bills to help alleviate the shortage. The bills include a $28 million supplemental appropriation to improve FDA’s oversight, enforcement, and data collection and a bill to bolster the Women, Infants and Children program by waiving certain eligibility requirements while the public health emergency and supply chain issues persist. The Senate passed the bill granting WIC waivers, but the FDA supplemental appropriation faces an uncertain future.
  • FDA and the manufacturer of the plant that was shut down due to safety concerns now have an agreement in place outlining the conditions for that plant to reopen and manufacturing to resume.
  • FDA issued guidance to allow major manufacturers from abroad to safely import formula.
  • The Biden Administration is working closely with infant formula manufacturers and retailers to increase the supply and speed of distribution to ensure that formula is quickly moving from factories to retailers shelves.
  • HHS is working with the states to implement flexibility within the WIC program.

In a related development, Reckitt Benckiser Group, the maker of Enfamil, reportedly is going forward with a multibillion-dollar sale of its infant-formula business, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Reckitt kicked off a sale process for its formula business last month, with first-round bids submitted this week. Bidders include buyout firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice, sources told the WSJ. The unit could sell for around $7 billion, some bankers and analysts have estimated.

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