Thune introduces bill to extend FDA hand sanitizer guidance

By Erin Voegele | June 11, 2020

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., on June 11 introduced legislation that aims to extend the Food and Drug Administration’s temporary guidance on hand sanitizer production during the COVID-19 pandemic for at least two years. The bill has been cosponsored by Sens. Mike Braun, R-Ind.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; and Mike Rounds, R-S.D.

“This will give ethanol producers that have made investments or changes in operations to meet the need for hand sanitizer a longer time to recoup their investment costs,” said Thune on the Senate floor during the introduction of his bill. “I recognize there is ongoing deliberation with the FDA about denaturants and other accepted chemical limits for hand sanitizer ethanol, and my bill would not hinder those discussions. My bill would simply provide ethanol producers with a baseline of certainty while still allowing the FDA to make case-by-case approvals and to waive or reduce other requirements as necessary to meet the public health emergency.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol and Biotechnology Innovation Organization have spoken out in support of the Hand Sanitizer Guidance Extension Act of 2020.  

“ACE thanks Senator Thune for introducing legislation to provide greater certainty to ethanol producers about the investments they have made to respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic by supplying alcohol for sanitizer,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “Sanitizer production has helped keep some plants open and their workers employed during this downturn, all the while keeping their communities safer. Producers need some level of certainty that they won’t be inflicted with more regulatory whiplash after spending precious capital to retool their plants to provide sanitizer as Americans begin to slowly return to their normal activities.”

“Biotechnology has enabled the sustainable fuels industry to step up in the fight to protect the public against COVID-19 by repurposing their facilities to produce hand sanitizer,” said Stephanie Batchelor, vice president of BIO’s industrial and environmental section. “BIO thanks Senator Thune for introducing legislation to provide regulatory certainty to producers who have made the investment to help combat this disease.”