Distilleries to get six-month extension to manufacture hand sanitisers

The fixed retail prices of hand sanitisers will also continue up to December 31, 2020

With an aim to ensure availability of hand sanitisers in the country, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India has requested the drug controlling authorities in States and other competent authorities to further extend short term manufacturing licenses issued to distilleries and other units involved in manufacturing of hand sanitisers up to December 31, 2020.

The letter issued by the Department of Food and Public Distribution informed that as the economy is gradually opening up, the demand for hand sanitisers is expected to grow in the near future, both for domestic as well as international markets. Therefore, keeping in view, the role of hand sanitisers in this long and arduous fight against the pandemic, it is requested to extend the necessary permission to distilleries and other units involved in manufacturing hand sanitisers.

The Ministry has also looked into the affordability aspect and the Department of Food and Public Distribution has also extended the fix on retail prices of hand sanitisers up to December 31, 2020.

Narendra Ahooja, State Drug Controller, Haryana, said, “The Haryana FDA welcomes the decision to extend both, price regulation and validity of permission issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India. These decisions will help to ensure quality hand sanitisers at fixed prices and also help in meeting the demand.” During the COVID-19 crisis and nationwide lockdown, the Haryana FDA had issued 18 manufacturing licences to distilleries.

Pradeep Mattu, Joint Commissioner, Food and Drugs Administration, Punjab informed, “Although Punjab has around 60-70 distilleries, only three to four of them applied and considering the situation, we issued the manufacturing licenses. However, we will be examining the state’s requirements for hand sanitisers and based on the requirements, we will decide whether to extend manufacturing licences to distilleries and others or not.”

Dr TK Rai, Director, Drug Controllers Organisation, Sikkim said, “In March, the State did not have a single hand sanitiser manufacturer, but now the state has the capacity to manufacture hand sanitisers in surplus.” He also informed that in the early stage of the licence issuing process, they had not fixed the validity of the licenses, but later the validity instructions were defined.

“We were waiting for instructions from the authority on this, now it is up to the manufacturers to seek for further extension. With an increase of COVID-19 positive cases in the State, as migrants are returning, there is a sudden rise in the demand for hand sanitisers. This move will ensure product availability in the market,” he added. The Sikkim FDA granted four manufacturing licences to distilleries.

Sunil Kumar, Vice President, Piccadilly Sugar and Allied Industries, Rewari, said, “We appreciate the government’s move of extending the manufacturing licences for a further six months. Although we would like to continue making hand sanitisers in the future too, we will follow the given instructions of government authorities.”

The story so far…

On March 19, 2020, the Department of Consumer Affairs, issued a gazette notification, which stated that as per the Essential Commodities Act 1955, the raw material used in the manufacturing of an essential commodity shall be treated as an essential commodity. Therefore, Essential Commodities Order, 2020 was published with ingredients and prices of the ingredients as raw materials. The aim was to regulate the production, quality, distribution, prices and other aspects of alcohol used in manufacturing hand sanitisers.

On March 21, the Department of Food and Public Distribution requested State Government and Union Territories (UT) administrations to take appropriate measures to ensure adequate availability of ethyl alcohol, ethanol ENA to the manufacturers of hand sanitisers, an essential material in the fight against the coronavirus.

On March 24, it advised Joint Secretary-Sugar to coordinate with alcohol distilleries, Excise Commissioners and Drug Controllers in States to start manufacture of sanitisers through alcohol distilleries expeditiously. It also asked the States to waive the 300 per cent excise duty on ethanol used for the purpose of making hand sanitisers. The same notification also mentioned about negotiations with the distilleries for the supply of sanitisers in bulk to State and Central Government hospitals at low rates.

Following these instructions, a majority of the State Governments, UT administrations issued a necessary short term period licences to distilleries and other units for the production of hand sanitisers to ensure their availability in the market.

On May 6, the government restricted the export of hand sanitisers, which was lifted on June 1, 2020, after the State drug controllers assured that there was enough stock availability of hand sanitisers in each State and UT. Now, the government is still restricting the export of hand sanitisers in containers with dispenser pumps.


distilleriesDr TK RaiHaryana FDAmanufacturing licenses for hand sanitisersMinistry of Consumer AffairsNarendra AhoojaPiccadilly Sugar and Allied IndustriesPradeep Mattuprice fix on hand sanitisersPunjab FDASikkim FDASunil Kumar
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