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Abbott In Trouble

Abbott Laboratories under DOJ investigation over baby formula

Healthcare company Abbott Laboratories is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over issues at its Michigan baby formula plant that led to lingering nationwide shortages throughout 2022, the company confirmed Friday. 

The Wall Street Journal broke the news of the investigation, and the probe into the company was confirmed later that day by an Abbott spokesperson.

"DOJ has informed us of its investigation and we're cooperating fully," the spokesperson said. The specifics of the investigation remain unclear, though people familiar with the matter told the Journal that the DOJ's consumer-protection branch was helming the probe. 

The investigation comes almost one year after Abbott shut down its infant formula manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after four babies became sick with bacterial infections after consuming the products.

Two of these babies would eventually die from the infections. 

The shutdown ultimately triggered a massive recall, and it was alleged by company whistleblowers that Abbott had covered up food safety violations from the FDA prior to the plant's shuttering. 

Politico reported that the Sturgis plant produced one-fifth of the nation's supply of baby formula. Its closure led to crippling shortages in the industry that became problematic for President Biden as his administration tackled rising inflation and supply chain crises throughout 2022. 

The plant was reopened over the summer following an agreement between Abbott and the FDA, though it took another eight to ten weeks for formula to start hitting the shelves again. 

The DOJ has not commented on the investigation. However, the announcement of the probe comes just a few weeks after Abbott reached a deal with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) to build a $536 million plant for manufacturing metabolic formula.