Statement of CSPI president Dr. Peter G. Lurie
The White House announced new actions today to address the baby formula shortage. These actions, which include making it easier for WIC families to purchase substitute formula and directing prosecutors to prevent price-gouging and other predatory behaviors, are a step in the right direction. But more action is critically needed to address the ongoing crisis and prevent future shortages.
The current shortage has highlighted a weak point in our food system. CSPI calls on the White House and policymakers at FDA and in Congress to use all the tools at their disposal to address the immediate crisis and ensure that in the future American consumers do not have to struggle to access this essential product:
Congress should authorize the FDA to require infant formula manufacturers to notify the agency when they anticipate significant interruptions in the supply of infant formula or essential medical food, a tactic that has helped reduce drug shortages.
Congress should provide additional funding to the FDA for reviewing shortage notifications, managing potential shortages, and prioritizing review of any new infant formula applications.
Provide additional funding to FDA to inspect infant formula manufacturers and work with manufacturers to address food safety issues that may cause recalls and outbreaks, including exercising regulatory discretion, as appropriate
Consider policies to promote competition in infant formula manufacturing.
Given the vulnerability of the affected populations and the limited range of foods consumed at this age, consider creating a national reserve of infant formula, which can be accessed in times of shortage, particularly for specialty formulas that may be most vulnerable to shortages.
CSPI President Dr. Peter Lurie served as an Associate Commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration where he worked on drug shortages.