Hill Awards Golden Fleece to FDA for Charging Burdensome Fees to Small Businesses During a Pandemic

Little Rock, Ark. – Rep. French Hill (AR-02) named the Food and Drug Administration as the latest recipient of the Golden Fleece Award for charging distilleries $14,060 in fees for producing hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“America’s distilleries stepped up to produce hand sanitizer when it was in short supply at the start of the pandemic, quickly realigning manufacturing to help out their communities. It is unacceptable that the FDA would charge a fee to small businesses that found a creative way to help their communities during a crisis,” said Rep. Hill. “I am glad the Department of Health and Human Services ultimately voided the fees, but the FDA still receives my Golden Fleece Award for the poor timing of this announcement – dropping it on small businesses just before the stroke of midnight at the end of an already tough year.” 

In a letter to Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, Rep. Hill wrote:

Dear Dr. Woodcock: 

I write today to inform you that your agency is the most recent recipient of my Golden Fleece Award. I am awarding the Golden Fleece to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its recently published notice in the Federal Register that the FDA, under the Over-the Counter Monograph Drug User Fee Program, was charging distilleries that produced hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic $14,060. 

At the start of this pandemic, items like personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer were in short supply. Our nation's distilleries, many of them small businesses, stepped up to fill the void and make hand sanitizer for local first responders and citizens. However, in the week between Christmas and the New Year, and after a painful financial year for many of these distilleries, they received a surprise notification that they now owed the FDA more than $14,000 for their willingness to step in and help their fellow Americans. 

Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overrode the FDA's decision to enforce these fees; however for the timing of your agency's decision which caused unnecessary and avoidable panic and concern on the part of the distilleries across the nation I am awarding you my Golden Fleece Award. The federal government should not hinder companies that seek to fill the voids to the betterment of the American people in times of national crisis. 

Please recommend your need for authority from Congress to address this issue effectively in the future. I urge you to notify us as soon as possible. I look forward to working with you to empower our small businesses to best serve their communities. 


French Hill

Member of Congress

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