Biden officials still trying to get better data on formula supply as shortages continue

“It looks like they have no idea what’s going on,” Sen said. Richard Burer (NC), the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that oversees the FDA. “Go to Costco, go to Wal-Mart. Look at the shelves,” Burr added, referring to ongoing shortages at some of the nation’s largest retailers.

The FDA’s Office of Food Policy and Response, one of the teams responding to formula shortages, states in the contract’s online notice that Nielsen’s retail tracking data will help the FDA “monitor and analyze the status of impacts to the infant formula supply chain and to respond to White House Requests on the outbreak.

An FDA spokesperson confirmed Nielsen’s exclusive contract with POLITICO.

The FDA began receiving the data this week, according to the same two people familiar with the discussions and the contract.

So far, administration officials have gathered data on infant formula inventories from the federal government, infant formula manufacturers, retailers and private market research firms as they scout tried to react to the situation.

The FDA “will continue to use other sources of aggregated sales data, such as IRI and Datasembly, in its analysis and tracking of infant formula supply trends,” the spokesperson said, referring to the two private data research companies the White House relied on. . The IRI frequently shows higher inventory rates than other data sources.

The White House continued to tout the IRI data, saying it had taken steps to authorize rollbacks of import restrictions and flights of infant formula from overseas after the company’s tracking revealed that national inventory levels had fallen to 80% during the month of April. But national stock rates do not reflect variations in formula availability by region. The upper Midwest is experiencing the most severe current shortages, which have particularly affected low-income and families of color.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told lawmakers last week he still believes the United States will soon have a “surplus” in infant formula production, despite continued challenges and the second shutdown of the agency. Abbott factory.

Califf said the administration is now getting production data from all of the formula companies, which is helpful, but still leaves White House and FDA officials guessing at the full picture of how much formula is coming onto the market. store shelves across the country.

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