“I don’t think anyone anticipated the impact of the shutdown of one facility,” Biden said after the meeting, adding, “Once we learned the extent of it and how broad it was, it kicked everything into gear.”
But when reporters noted that the executives had said they immediately recognized the scope of the problem, Biden said, “They did, but I didn’t.”
The disconnect between the industry’s alertness to the looming crisis and the administration’s lack of awareness was hinted at during the panel discussion itself. Biden asked one panelist directly if his company had been surprised by the “profound effect immediately” of the Abbott closure.
“No, sir, we were aware of the general impact that this would have,” said Robert Cleveland, a senior vice president at Reckitt. “From the moment that that recall was announced, we reached out immediately to retail partners like Target and Walmart to tell them this is what we think will happen.”
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