New Mexico distilleries that produced hand sanitizer get FDA fee waived

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – At the beginning of the pandemic, many local breweries and distilleries stepped up to help produce hand sanitizer. Just this week, that good deed landed them with a massive fine from the FDA.

The fine was basically a slap in the face to all the local distilleries here in New Mexico that took part in making hand sanitizer. When they were hit with a $14,000 fine, they fought to have their voices heard, and the feds listened.

As you might remember at the start of the pandemic, hand sanitizers were hard to find as many shoppers hoarded cleaning supplies. That’s when many local breweries stepped in to help.

Broken Trail, Wayward Sons, and Safe House Distillery all started to produce their own hand sanitizer to donate to the community. But just this week, those breweries, along with others across the nation, got slapped with a $14,000 fee from the FDA.

That fee is standard for pharmaceutical companies that sell over-the-counter products. This was all part of the CARES Act that would help fund the FDA’s regulatory activities.

For the co-owner of Safe House Distillery Company, he says that fee could have devastated local distilleries. “Fourteen thousand dollars might shut a distillery down that doesn’t have the payroll anymore, doesn’t have the money to pay that anymore,” says Chris Leurig.

Just last night, however, in a statement to KRQE News 13, the United States Department of Health and Human Services asked the FDA to waive the fee. The FDA agreed.

The FDA also provided us a statement that says, in part, they “understand small businesses stepped up during the pandemic to help.” They say they plan on continuing to work with these small businesses to make sure local communities get the proper health tools they need to fight the coronavirus.

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