Distilleries Rushed to Produce Hand Sanitizer During COVID, Now the FDA Is Sending Them a Bill

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

No good deed goes unpunished, and that phrase is never more true then when dealing with the federal government.

During the beginning of the COVID pandemic, you’ll probably remember the rush on sanitation products, specifically hand sanitizer. Stocks quickly ran out and some even price gouged, trying to sell bottles of the liquid for exorbitant amounts. To combat that reality, distilleries across the country stopped making the product the makes them a lot of money (i.e. alcohol) and instead starting producing cheap hand sanitizer to help with the shortage.

Now, those distillers are getting a bill from the FDA for “regulatory activities.”

At issue is a provision of the CARES Act that reformed regulation of non-prescription drugs. Under the revised law, distilleries that produced sanitizer have been classified as “over-the-counter drug monograph facilities.” The CARES Act also enacted user fees on these facilities to fund the FDA’s regulatory activities. For small distillers, that means ending the year with a surprise bill for $14,060 due on February 11.

“People are incredibly anxious,” Harris says. “We have been dealing with tons of phone calls talking to individual members and state guilds to tell them what we know and what we don’t know.”

This is the kind of thing that gets overlooked when you rush through a bill like the CARES Act. I’m sure most politicians who voted for it would not have approved of this provision, but they almost certainly never saw it. Instead, some wet behind the ears staffers wrote the bill and Congress can never be expected to take the time to review it. Thus, we now have distillers who are already getting killed by the pandemic because spending on drinking is way down (mostly because of lock downs) having to pay an FDA fee for simply trying to do a good deed. In some cases, the hand sanitizer was actually donated. They still get hit with a bill.

Thus is our regulatory state. Government leeches who consistently underperform while punishing the very people helping to solve problems in this country. Keep in mind that it’s the FDA that delayed the vaccine release because they are so inefficient. But there is no mechanism by which to hold these agencies accountable. It takes an act of God to fire someone who isn’t a political appointee, and the political appointees don’t really have any power anyway. They are simply subverted by a careerist set that believe they are above elections.

Hopefully, something happens here to provide some relief. I wouldn’t hold my breath though. The bureaucratic apparatus is hardly known for their compassion and common sense.

(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)