WASHINGTON Jan 3 George Karavetsos, director of
the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal
Investigations (OCI), will depart the agency to join a private
law firm, according to an internal announcement seen by Reuters.
Karavetsos in January 2015 became director of the 280-unit
operation, which conducts criminal probes involving food, drugs,
devices, cosmetics and tobacco.
His last day will be Jan. 20, the day Donald Trump is sworn
in as president.
His departure was announced Tuesday by the FDA's associate
commissioner for regulatory affairs, Melinda Plaisier, and
Howard Sklamberg, the deputy commissioner for global regulatory
operations and policy.
The FDA confirmed the departure, but a spokeswoman declined
to comment beyond the announcement.
Karavetsos "has delivered an exceptional body of work,
leading noteworthy and important change in OCI," Plaisier and
The OCI has been under scrutiny in recent months, after
Reuters published a series of articles about the office's
approach to criminal investigations and controversies
surrounding its spending, personnel matters and use of
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce in September launched an
examination of the office, asking questions about OCI's case
statistics as well as "possible morale concerns with the field
Earlier in September, Reuters reported on concerns by some
FDA agents who said OCI managers have forced them to pursue
toothless cases involving mislabeled foreign-imported injectable
drugs such as Botox, at the expense of cases with more potential
to protect the public health.
Reuters also reported that FDA managers in Miami pulled 11
staffers from their usual duties to provide security escorts
with emergency lighting for Plaisier and Karavetsos during a
March visit to the field office there.
Shortly after the March trip, the FDA approved letting
Karavetsos return to his home in Miami where he has run the
Maryland-based operation from the agency's Miami field office.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Leslie Adler)