Distilleries, breweries that helped make hand sanitizer could now face a fee

Updated: Dec. 31, 2020 at 10:50 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - During the pandemic a few of our local businesses stepped up to help. This list includes Yellowhammer Brewing and Irons Distillery who started making hand sanitizer during the pandemic. However, now there’s a question as to whether local distilleries and breweries will have to pay a fee after they decided to help the community.

On December 31st, without any advanced notice, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said the FDA would be imposing fees on distilleries and other facilities that made hand sanitizer during the pandemic.

According to the release, the fees impacting some of these businesses are a $14,060 Monograph Drug Facility Fee and $9,373 Contract Manufacturing Organization Facility Fee. Something the council said would put a lot of businesses in jeopardy.

According to the FDA website, the OTC monograph drug facility fees for Fiscal Year 2021 are due on February 12th.

However, Thursday night the Department of Health and Human Services Chief of Staff Tweeted the below.

“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!”

Just a few hours after that tweet, the FDA announced in a press release in part, “With these concerns in mind the FDA intends to appropriately and transparently implement the drug user fee program enacted by Congress and signed into law.”

The whole situation is leaving business owners and management wondering what will happen.

Yellowhammer Brewing and Irons Distillery were just two of the local businesses that met the need during the pandemic making hand sanitizer.

According to Irons Distillery owner, Jeff Irons, there’s a lot of confusion.

“I just made a little bit and quite frankly, I gave it away,” Irons said. “Just with people needing hand sanitizer, I got it. I said, it’s yours.”

Irons said he hasn’t gotten a notice to pay yet, and neither has Ethan Couch with Yellowhammer Brewing. Couch’s business made sanitizer to donate to the community and sell to locals.

“If I had known about it on the front end I might have made different decisions and it’s definitely shocking and hurtful that they can’t do anything about it, and its going to take Congress to change it.”

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