After public outrage erupted over the Food and Drug Administration's decision to charge distilleries who made hand sanitizer a massive $14,060 fee, the agency announced on Twitter that it will reverse its decision and not charge those fees.
As noted by TheBlaze Thursday and first reported by Reason, many of the approximately eight hundred United States distilleries who switched some of their production to hand sanitizer in the early stages of the pandemic were stunned to receive a letter from the FDA in late December informing them that they had been designated "over-the-counter drug monograph facilities" under the CARES Act, and would be required to pay a $14,060 fee by February 11th.
The alcoholic beverage industry has suffered during the pandemic due to the decimation of the tourism industry. Thus, the unexpected fees threatened to put many smaller distilleries out of business, leading many trade associations to hope that the FDA would reverse their decision. However, it was noted that the agency was not expected to act during the course of the holidays.
Surprisingly, however, the agency responded quickly, and tweeted Thursday afternoon that distilleries would not be required to pay the fee.
BREAKING: @HHSGov Acts Swiftly to Protect Small Businesses from Arbitrary Fees Statement from Brian Harrison, HHS… https://t.co/hWDkkLq1CR— HHS Office of Public Affairs (@HHS Office of Public Affairs)1609456026.0
According to a statement released on Twitter, Health and Human Services Chief of Staff Brian Harrison stated, "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 for helping keep us safe!"
In a statement provided to CNN, Harrison further elaborated that the fees were a "mistake" and said they had not been approved by senior leadership at HHS. "Many of these are rather small business, craft distilleries, and their business and livelihoods were damaged when restaurants closed down. But they jumped into the fray and joined the fight against Covid. It was nothing short of heroic. They are American heroes."