In a Last-Minute Reversal, HHS Voids FDA Fees on Distillers Who Produced Emergency Hand Sanitizer
It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours for American craft distillers, but 2020 is ending with some good news: Thanks to media coverage, including here at Reason, of an unexpected and substantial fee imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on distillers who pivoted to produce much-needed hand sanitizer, the federal government has reversed course on what would have been a devastating blow to small businesses.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many distillers shifted their production from spirits to hand sanitizer, complying with emergency guidance from the FDA. Much of this sanitizer was donated or sold at a low margin, helping to alleviate a dire shortage. These same distilleries were surprised this week by a notice from the FDA informing them that they were required to pay a fee of more than $14,000 as over-the-counter drug production facilities to cover the costs of FDA regulation.
Late today, however, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reversed the policy. In a statement posted to Twitter, HHS Chief of Staff Brian Harrison said, “Small businesses who stepped up to fight COVID-19 should be applauded by their government, not taxed for doing so. 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
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