Distilleries nationwide and in Arkansas were faced with some expensive Food and Drug Administration fees because they made hand sanitizer but that was waived.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Update– The Department of Health and Human Services announced shortly after this storied aired it will not require distilleries that made hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic to pay thousands of dollars in surprise fees.
Distilleries nationwide and even here at home are faced with some expensive Food and Drug Administration fees because they made hand sanitizer.
For small already-struggling companies, this could hurt even further as they struggle to remain open.
At the beginning of the pandemic, hand sanitizer flew off the shelves quick at big box stores.
That’s when local distilleries stepped up to help, but they didn’t know then that they would have to pay big bucks for their helping hands.
“It’s super hard to keep things running as it is, and then to be hit with the fee it seems like a slap in the face for doing what we did to help,” said Phil Brandon, owner of Rock Town Distillery in Little Rock.
Brandon is just one of many distillers left shocked and upset.
They are faced with the new FDA OTC monograph fee of $14,000 all because they chose to make and distribute hand sanitizer.
For Brandon, he mostly made it then donated it to people and companies in need.
“We had no notice,” said Brandon. “There was not like hey this coming. We found out on the 29th.”
He received a letter from the FDA that stated the money is due by February 11, 2021.
But like many other small businesses, they are struggling to keep up already.
“We are already struggling through Covid-19 and then the government just decides to make up this fee that wasn’t there before,” said Brandon. “I just don’t understand.”
Brandon said the fee could be just enough to devastate small businesses who are impacted.
He’s reached out to Congressman French Hill’s office in hopes they can help get the fee waived.
“It seems kind of crazy,” said Brandon. “We are trying to keep working through the channels, but as of yet I have heard nothing that we are getting satisfaction.”
On Twitter, Rep. Hill said that he plans to work with other legislators in Congress to “correct this problem and reverse the negative impact on distillers across the nation.”
This article has been updated to include the update that distilleries will not be required to pay the fee.