FDA won't enforce fines on distilleries that made hand sanitizer during pandemic

Posted at 9:37 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 21:37:39-05

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has rescinded a fine on distilleries that made hand sanitizer to bolster supply during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday that it would impose a $14,060 Monograph Drug Facility Fee or a $9,373 Contract Manufacturing Organization Facility Fee for distilleries that made hand sanitizer.

“This incredibly frustrating news comes as a complete shock to the more than 800 distilleries across the country that came to the aid of their local communities and first responders," said Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO Chris Swonger in a statement Thursday morning. “While this fee may be a rounding error to a large pharmaceutical company, this will be disastrous to small distilleries who stepped up to help produce this critical product – it will quite literally bankrupt some struggling businesses."

By Thursday night, Health and Human Services Chief of Staff Brian Harrison announced that the FDA would not enforce the fees.

“Small businesses who stepped up to fight COVID-19 should be applauded by their government, not taxed for doing so," said Brian Harrison, HHS Chief of Staff in a statement Thursday. "I’m pleased to announce we have directed FDA to cease enforcement of these arbitrary, surprise user fees. Happy New Year, distilleries, and cheers to you for helping keep us safe!”

During statewide bar shutdowns at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, some Cincinnati-area distilleries switched from alcohol production to making hand sanitizer.