FOIA Requests Presaged Huge Problems for Baby-Formula Maker Abbott Labs

A New Database Compiles Millions of FOIA Records to Analyze Trends

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), the giant U.S.-based medical device and health care company, revealed on February 17 that it faces civil and criminal investigations by the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission related to multiple problems in its infant-formula business.  But long before that, numerous law firms and news organizations were investigating the same alleged crimes by the pharmaceutical giant, a new database reveals.

The existence of previously unreported inquiries into Abbott’s alleged misconduct, including deadly contaminants at its main plant in Sturgis, Mich., is disclosed in a new information resource, FOIAengine, which tracks federal Freedom of Information Act requests in as close to real-time as their availability allows.  The data from FOIAengine, a competitive-intelligence tool created by PoliScio Analytics, illustrates how far ahead of the government some private players were and raises questions about whether lives were needlessly lost due to inaction.

The FDA had been scrutinizing the Sturgis plant for months before finally issuing a public warning on February 17, 2022 that parents shouldn’t use the market-leading Abbott products sold under the brand names Similac, Alimentum, and Elecare because of potential cronobacter contamination.   Abbott initiated a recall the same day.  The warning and recall came after four children — one in Minnesota, one in Texas and two in Ohio — fell ill with bacterial infections.  Two died.  The FDA said it found cronobacter in the Sturgis facility and that the bacteria “may have contributed to the cause of death for both patients.”  Abbott denies that there is a direct link between its products and the illnesses or deaths reported in infants.

Read more at Law Street Media.

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