Business · COVID-19

Feds reverse, kill fees for distillers who produced hand sanitizer

Federal health officials announced on New Year’s Eve that surprise fees against distillers announced by the U.S Food and Drug Administration in the waning days of 2020 would not be enforced

The Sun first reported of the $14,060 annual fees levied by the FDA against distillers who sprung into action at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic to produce hand sanitizer amid a nationwide shortage. 

Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration unveiled a new set of fees for organizations operating as “monograph drug facilities” producing over-the-counter drugs.

Hand sanitizer is one of those over-the-counter drugs qualifying for fee assessments by its producers – including makeshift sanitizer producers like distillers.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Chief of staff Brian Harrison announced the reversal on the fee Thursday. 

“Small businesses who stepped up to fight COVID-19 should be applauded by their government, not taxed for doing so,” the department tweeted out. “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!”

California distillers served a major role in pushing back against the FDA’s fee. 

“The FDA’s announcement at the beginning of this week was set to wipeout our holiday-season profit,” said Aaron Bergh, Paso Robles-based distiller and owner of Calwise Spirits. “Thanks to speaking out and fighting the power, we’ve found ourselves the recipients of a New Year’s miracle.” 

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.