Distillers Offer a Key Economic Lesson to FDA Regulators
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
Something good may yet come out of the massive economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic — regulators suspending or modifying some rules to spur the manufacture of critical health supplies.
One such change: the FDA allowing distilleries to make hand sanitizer. As Erin Cox writes, suspending (most of) the rules delivered significant benefits:
The hand sanitizer industry is heavily regulated, from what goes in it to how it’s sold. When the COVID-19 outbreak drove demand through the roof, existing hand sanitizer manufacturers couldn’t keep up, and thanks to high barriers to entry imposed by existing regulations, new businesses couldn’t quickly start up and fill the gap. Shortages were everywhere.
In response, the Food and Drug Administration and state agencies revised, relaxed, or suspended many of the regulations surrounding the production of hand sanitizer to allow companies to produce more of it during the COVID-19 crisis.
Distilleries and pharmacies across the country responded, producing hundreds of thousands of gallons of desperately needed hand sanitizer. Currently, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States lists 827 distilleries across the nation making hand sanitizer.
The goal now, Cox says, should be to allow distilleries and others to continue to make hand sanitizer after the pandemic has run its course. This would substantially expand the available supply – mitigating against shortages – and create an additional economy.
“If Tito’s or a local pharmacy can safely make a profit from producing hand sanitizer,” Cox writes, “and the public wants to buy that hand sanitizer, the government shouldn’t stand in their way.”
Image Credit: Uri Tours (uritours.com) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons