In an effort to address a nationwide shortage, the first baby formula flights will arrive in Indiana this weekend.
US Air Force planes will depart Germany’s Ramstein Air Base carrying 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula, the White House said.
Ramstein base spokesperson Sandra Archer-Harris told pool reporters Saturday that 14 metal aircraft pallets with more than 71,000 pounds of formula were loaded for departure on Sunday.
An additional 114 pallets of Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula are expected to arrive over the new few days.
ABBOTT SAYS IT WILL BE AT LEAST TWO MONTHS BEFORE BABY FORMULA FROM SHUTTERED PLANT HITS SHELVES
In total, approximately 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three hypoallergenic baby formulas will arrive.
President Biden had initially requested that the Pentagon use commercially chartered aircraft to move the formula from Europe to America. However, the administration said no commercial flights were available this weekend.
“Operation Fly Formula” comes after Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up the production of infant formula.
The order requires suppliers of formula manufacturers to fulfill orders from those companies before other customers.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) head Dr. Robert Califf told lawmakers Thursday that Abbott Nutrition’s Michigan formula plant could be up and running by next week – though Abbott said it would take a couple of months before its product is available on shelves.
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Califf said it will be “a few weeks” before supplies return to normal levels, especially in rural areas.
The plant has been closed since February due to contamination issues.
Abbott is only one of four companies – including Gerber, Perrigo and Reckitt – that produce an estimated 90% of US formula.
This week, the FDA eased importation requirements to relieve the situation.
In addition, the Senate approved legislation Thursday aimed at addressing the issue for families participating in a government assistance program that accounts for about half of all formula purchased in the US
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The House passed the bill the day before, which will go to the president’s desk.
Lawmakers are also considering boosting staffing at the FDA, with a $28 million emergency spending bill.
Fox Business’ Breck Dumas, Daniella Genovese and The Associated Press contributed to this report.