CEO Apologizes, Vows To Supply More


The CEO of  Abbott Laboratories, beset by the FDA and the public, penned a mea culpa to consumers on May 21st over the controversial nationwide child formula shortage— and pledges to supply “more formula to Americans than we were in January before the recall.”

Robert Ford asked forgiveness from America in an opinion piece on the Washington Post website titled: “We’re sorry about the formula shortage. Here’s what we’re doing to fix it.”

He swore Abbot was “making significant investments to ensure this never happens again,” but admitted that the company’s measures “won’t end the struggles of families today.”

The infant formula market pertained to a crawl when Abbott willingly recalled a few of its most popular powdered formulas in February, which was followed by the company closing down its Michigan plant when four children became ill after consuming Abbott products.

The CEO still holds in his op-ed that the voluntary recall was “the best thing to do” which information collected during an examination “did not discover any connection in between our items and the 4 reported health problems in children.”

“However, the FDA’s investigation did discover a bacteria in our plant that we will not tolerate. I have high expectations of this company, and we fell short of them,” Ford writes.

“We know that some children have been hospitalized because of the lack of EleCare, a specialized formula for children who cannot digest other formulas and milks. Given their unique needs, children who lose access to it can require medical supervision until the formula is returned to the shelves.

“I will not mince words — this is tragic and heartbreaking, and it is consuming my thoughts and those of my colleagues,” the CEO wrote, adding, “Our highest priority is getting babies safe, quality formula they need as fast as possible.”

Ford wrote that Abbott takes “great pride in manufacturing nutrition and formula to feed America’s infants, including our most vulnerable, but the past few months have distressed us as they have you, and so I want to say: We’re sorry to every family we’ve let down since our voluntary recall exacerbated our nation’s baby formula shortage.”

How Abbott Vows to End Baby Formula Shortage.

Ford likewise outlined a plan to right the ravaging infant formula shortage:

  • “We will prioritize EleCare when manufacturing resumes and get that out the door initially. In the meantime, we’re developing a $5 million fund that will be separately administered to assist these families with medical and living costs as they weather this storm.”
  • “You can feel safe purchasing any Abbott product you find on the store shelves. What is offered has actually passed strenuous assessments and is ready for your babies.”

Ford stated the business has taken “serious steps to relieve the supply crisis” by transforming lines of their adult nutrition products at their Columbus, Ohio, plant“to prioritize production of ready-to-feed liquid infant formula.”

He added that Abbott has also been “air-shipping millions of cans of our most widely used powdered infant formula from an FDA-approved facility in Ireland to the United States since the recall.”

“As you may have heard, we also entered into a consent decree with the FDA related to our closed facility,” Ford writes. “This was a major step toward quickly and safely reopening. We expect we’ll be able to restart the facility by the first week in June. From the time we restart production at the site, it will take six to eight weeks before product is available on shelves.”

As soon as Abbott’s Michigan center is operating at complete capacity, Ford pledges it will “more than double” its current production of powdered baby formula for US.

“By the end of June, we will be supplying more formula to Americans than we were in January before the recall.”

Ford detailed that Abbott’s  “significant investments to ensure this never happens again” includes plans to “expand both capacity and redundancy. This will increase the nation’s formula supply and create the redundancy we need to never have to stop production of critical products such as EleCare again.”

He said the company will likewise update its security and quality procedures and devices.

“These steps we’re taking won’t end the struggles of families today. Some solutions will take weeks, others will take longer, but we will not rest until it is done,” Ford concluded.

“I will not rest. I want everyone to trust us to do what is right, and I know that must be earned back.”

H/T The New York Post

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