(WHTM) — A Dauphin County mother says the clock is ticking. Her son needs a special formula to stay alive and the plant that makes it has been shut down for months.

Seven-year-old Johnny Bricker has a rare metabolic disease. “This requires him to have a very specialized diet for the rest of his life and one of the most critical parts of his diet is this medical formula that he takes,” said his mother, Ashley Bricker.

The formula is Ketonex and is made by Abbott, which had its plant in Michigan shut down two months ago when it was discovered that some of its infant formulas were contaminated with bacteria. Abbott is also one of the leading creators of metabolic formulas.

“The metabolic community is now really suffering because we don’t have access to formula these kids need to live and adults,” Ashley said. She has tried to get answers from the FDA about when the Abbott plant will reopen.

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“But what comes back is that crafted answer from the FDA. That they are working with Abbott to get the plant back up and running, and they don’t give a date.”

Ashley says there are also reports that there is metabolic formula sitting in the Abbott plant that could be sent out.

“From what I have heard those cans have been tested and they have been proven safe and the reports have been submitted to the FDA, but for some reason they are not allowed to ship it,” Ashley explained.

With six cans of formula left, Ashley says it will last two to three weeks and there are other families in the same situation.

“As parents, we are now terrified. It shouldn’t take someone with one of these diseases dying for them to open their eyes to the severity of this situation,” Ashley said.

abc27 reached out to the FDA and Abbott. Both responded Thursday afternoon.

The FDA is working diligently to ensure a safe resumption of production at Abbott’s Sturgis, MI facility, as a matter of highest priority. We are focused on the metabolic and specialty formulas as that facility produces all Ketonex products. We know that these products are critical for infants and young children with inborn errors of metabolism and the FDA’s infant formula and nutrition experts have been in contact with medical providers.

The FDA remains committed to using all available tools to oversee the safety, effectiveness and quality of FDA-regulated products while also helping to ensure that Americans have access to essential and life-sustaining infant formula products. The FDA continues to work with the USDA and manufacturers to ensure that parents have access to alternative, safe infant formula. However, the FDA also recognizes that there are individuals who may face life-threatening risks if they do not have access to certain specialty and metabolic infant formulas. We will continue to focus on taking all steps possible to protect the health of those who need access to powdered infant formula. 

FDA spokesperson

Abbott said they have offered to contact the family directly to offer some help.

We know that the recall of some of Abbott’s powder formulas has further exacerbated an industry-wide infant formula supply shortage, and we deeply regret the anxiety and impact this is having for parents, caregivers and healthcare providers. We are doing everything we can to address it. We’ve contacted other manufacturers to provide information regarding supply constraints for specialty formulas so they can address the demand. And we’ve communicated with healthcare professionals to make them aware of the situation and ensured they have information on alternative products. Anyone needing guidance should work with their healthcare professional to transition to a suitable alternative product.

Abbott spokesperson

This is a developing story. As further information is released, abc27 investigators will keep you informed.