Officials have warned that summoning the DPA is not a “magic wand” and will not increase supply instantly. And officials had also debated internally whether summoning him would move the needle significantly on production before finally deciding to move forward.
On Thursday, a senior administration official said the administration remains in discussions with the companies about specific ways the DPA and foreign formula import operation with federal resources will be used.
“We still have active and ongoing conversations with the companies, so I don’t have anything more specific to report at this time on the specific instances in which we will use the authority (DPA). What the authority does, it’s empowering the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make those individual decisions on a case-by-case basis,” an official told reporters.
Asked if there is currently a shortage of ingredients to make formulas, the manager added that these conversations are ongoing. When pressed on this later in the call, this official noted that DPA authority not only addresses potential ingredient shortages, but also expedites the supply chain.
“So that gives us the power to work more closely with baby manufacturers and get products through the supply chain faster,” they said.
An appeals official also told CNN that the federal government is still looking to identify a manufacturer that has a formula to import into the United States through Operation Fly Formula, with an official saying the administration remains in “active discussions.” with the manufacturers on where there were”. could be a worldwide cargo that would be suitable.”
“If we’re going to use commercial aircraft under contract with the DoD, we have to have a pick-up location, a drop-off location and the quantity (of formula) and other details. So that requires negotiations, again, with the maker of the formula,” another official said.
The Biden administration, they added, is working with the Department of Defense to identify contracted commercial flights. These planes are generally supposed to “land at airfields close to the factory or a manufacturing plant”.
The Department of Defense also indicated that the agency was in the very early stages of this process and had no flights to announce, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said during a press briefing later. late Thursday. Transportation Command (Transcom) is working with federal agencies to find available formula and contract commercial air carriers to import it.
“We all share the same sense of urgency,” Kirby added. “We will participate and cooperate to the best of our abilities, but I simply don’t have any specific information about the aircraft to give you today.”
Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, told CNN Newsroom on Thursday that the administration is in a “quick process” to determine where the DPA will be used to bring manufacturers to full production capacity.
“(A) As soon as we can responsibly explain where these instances will be in place, we will,” Deese added. “But rest assured, there’s a whole team that’s engaged hour by hour to make sure we’re doing everything we can to facilitate this movement of goods from businesses into the country.”
The moves came as the administration felt more pressure from Congress to deal with the shortage.
The House also passed another bill on Wednesday to help address the formula shortage, but the fate of that legislation is more uncertain in the Senate. This bill would provide $28 million in emergency funding to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help alleviate the current deficit and prevent future shortages.
Dr. Robert Califf, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told a congressional panel on Thursday that the infant formula shortage should improve within days, but it will take a few weeks to return to normal.
“It will gradually get better,” Califf said, when asked when parents will be able to find baby formula on the shelves. He added that the big problem now is distribution and rural areas face the worst problems.
“In a few days it will be better,” Califf said. “But it will be a few weeks before we get back to normal.”
The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a bill to improve access to infant formula. The bill, titled Access to Baby Formula Act, was approved by the House on Wednesday and will now be tabled in the president’s office for his signature.
The measure aims to ensure that families in need can continue to purchase infant formula with their WIC benefits – also known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children – during a health emergency. public or supply chain issues such as a product recall.
Wednesday’s announcement follows other steps the administration has taken over the past two weeks to address concerns about a months-long formula shortage, forcing parents in different parts of the country shopping around to feed their children.
Reckitt, which makes Enfamil-branded formula, is working to boost its domestic production — efforts that have been aided by the White House since Biden spoke with executives at Reckitt and Gerber, and retailers Target and Walmart , last week. Officials have been in “close communication” with the four major U.S. infant formula makers — Reckitt, Abbott, Nestle/Gerber and Perrigo — as well as major retailers this week following conversations with Biden.
CNN’s Oren Liebermann, Naomi Thomas, Kaitlan Collins, Clare Foran, Ali Zazlav, Daniella Diaz and Manu Raju contributed to this report.