White House needs to accept responsibility for shortage failures

The Biden administration’s response to the baby formula shortages worrying families across the country has been too slow, too tepid and too concerned with dodging accountability.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers told Dr. Robert Califf, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, just that went he testified to Congress Wednesday, according to USA Today.

The shortages of baby formula, in the words of U.S. Rep. Diane DeGette, D-Colorado, are “unacceptable — and worse — … totally preventable.”

We are glad that import rules have been temporarily relaxed and that the U.S. now is receiving shipments to replenish U.S. supplies. But that should have begun much sooner — and as DeGette infers, would have prevented much of the stress and heartache of American families had it begun sooner..

The catalyst for the shortages was an unsafe and unsanitary plant being shut down by the federal government after a whistleblower alerted the FDA about the plant’s conditions.

The whistleblower reached out the FDA in mid-October. They responded four months later.

Even after inspections in late January shutdown the plant, the FDA seems to have had little contact with the White House to coordinate measures to address the impact on supply. As of mid-May, President Joe Biden was claiming, according to the USA Today report, that a quicker, more engaged federal response would have required psychic powers on the parts of the FDA and administration.

At that point, the FDA had conducted 24 inspections at the troubled plant in about six weeks.

“The FDA didn’t have to read minds … they just had to read their own data,” U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington succinctly noted.

She’s right. And the inability of the FDA to coordinate on the impact of its inspections with other departments and offices to mitigate the consequences of the then-looming shortage reflects poorly on the FDA, on the White House and on President Joe Biden.


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