Health Care — House investigating baby formula shortage
This newborn giraffe was fitted with orthotics by the same specialist who treats Paralympians, and you have to see her trying out her custom braces for the first time.
A House committee is calling on major baby formula manufacturers to answer questions about the national shortage leaving many parents struggling to find food for their infants.
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Oversight launches probe
The House Oversight and Reform Committee is launching an investigation into the ongoing baby formula shortage, pressing the four largest domestic manufacturers for documents and information about the steps they are taking to alleviate the crisis.
The four companies — Abbott, Reckitt Benckiser, Nestlé and Perrigo — control nearly 90 percent of the U.S. market for baby formula.
“The national formula shortage poses a threat to the health and economic security of infants and families in communities throughout the country—particularly those with less income who have historically experienced health inequities, including food insecurity,” committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) wrote to the companies.
The lawmakers asked if the companies have enough supply to meet current demand and what steps they are taking to lower prices, prevent price gouging and increase consumer access.
Retail supply of formula has been spotty for months because of supply chain pressures and labor shortages, but the situation dramatically worsened in February with a nationwide recall of products made by Abbott Nutrition and subsequent shutdown of one of its key manufacturing plants because of contamination concerns.
The recall was sparked by four reports of a rare bacteria that causes deadly infections in babies. Two infants died.
BIDEN: PROGRESS ON BABY FORMULA SUPPLY COMING ‘VERY SHORTLY’
President Biden on Friday said he expects the administration will make progress on increasing the supply of baby formula soon, amid the ongoing national shortage.
“This is a process, we’re working on it very, very hard. There’s nothing more urgent we’re working on than that right now and I think we’re going to be making some significant progress very shortly,” he said at the White House.
When asked if the administration should have taken steps sooner, the president responded, “if we’ve been better mind readers, I guess we could have.”
“But, we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us. And, we have to move with caution as well as speed because we gotta make sure what we’re getting is in fact first-rate product, that’s why the FDA has to go through the process,” he said.
He also mentioned that the U.S. is increasing imports of formula from abroad and he pointed to the newly launched website for resources about the shortage.
Experts perplexed over number of long COVID cases
Public health experts are divided over how many people are getting long COVID-19, a potentially debilitating condition that comes after a patient has recovered from the coronavirus.
Ill effects from the condition can include fatigue, pain, neurological issues and even changes in mental health.
Initially, public health officials believed that only a small minority of people would suffer from long COVID-19. But some studies now indicate a majority of those infected with the coronavirus are experiencing long COVID-19 symptoms,
However, others have estimated that COVID long haulers are still in the minority.
It’s generally believed that people who developed severe cases of COVID-19 are more likely to have long COVID-19, but even those who had asymptomatic cases have reported lingering after-effects months after testing negative.
One problem in figuring out how many people get long COVID-19 is defining it.
Apart from the wide range of symptoms, there is still debate over when a person is considered to have long COVID-19. Some health care authorities consider a patient to have the condition if symptoms persist after three to six weeks, while other think it should be considered on a longer basis.
HOUSE JUDICIARY SCHEDULES ROE HEARING
The House Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing next week on the “ongoing crisis in abortion care access” and the implications of the Supreme Court potentially overturning the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade.
The committee has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Wednesday, titled “Revoking Your Rights: The Ongoing Crisis in Abortion Care Access.” A spokesman for the committee told The Hill it was still finalizing witnesses.
The chairman of the committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), told NBC News in a brief interview that he hoped the hearing would produce more information about the possible consequences of Roe v. Wade, which established the federal right to abortion, being overturned by the high court.
“What are the implications? What are all the implications? I think we know a lot of them, but what are all the implications?” he told NBC News.
Another member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), told the network in an interview that “nobody is safe” and claimed the recently leaked Supreme Court draft opinion, which would remove federal level abortion protections, “is literally undoing 50 years of precedent and signaling that they will go after other privacy rights.”
VIRTUAL EVENT INVITE
The Hill’s Mental Health Summit, Tuesday, May 17 at 1 p.m. ET
The pandemic and its toll on the mental health of Americans is often described as a “dual crisis.” What is being done to address the mental health crisis in our country? During Mental Health Awareness Month, The Hill hosts a discussion on policy recommendations that promote prevention and care for Americans experiencing mental illness. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), National Institute of Mental Health Director Dr. Joshua Gordon, Headspace CEO Russ Glass and more. RSVP today.
Nationwide protests planned over leaked Roe draft
Abortion rights activists are organizing large protests across the country following the bombshell leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion indicating plans to overturn the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade that protects the federal right to abortion.
A coalition of progressive and reproductive rights groups on Thursday announced plans to hold a “Bans Off Our Bodies” day of action on Saturday, May 14, in cities nationwide to push back against the ruling laid out in the high court’s draft opinion that would effectively eliminate constitutional protections for abortion rights.
The “massive” day of action — which is being organized by leaders from Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, Women’s March and MoveOn — will include four anchor marches in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles and hundreds of demonstrations in other cities.
“People are fired up. Within hours of this draft opinion coming out, a thousand people were on the steps of the Supreme Court. Then the next day, hundreds of thousands of people showed up in their communities at federal buildings and at the Supreme Court to protest this news,” Kelley Robinson, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said.
“We’re expecting hundreds of thousands of folks in these anchor cities and still hundreds of events all across the country. So no matter where you are, there’s somewhere for you to go.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
- U.S. FDA approves Eli Lilly’s treatment for type 2 diabetes (Reuters)
- This is how many lives could have been saved with COVID vaccinations in each state (NPR)
- The Tick That Causes a Meat Allergy Is on the Move (The New York Times)
- Maryland and Virginia governors urge DOJ to tighten security outside justices’ homes (NPR)
- These are the states where abortion rights will still be protected if Roe v. Wade is overturned (CNN)
- Houston’s COVID-19 trends are harder to track after rise in at-home tests, end of public dashboard (Houston Chronicle)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you on Monday.