‘A straight shooter and person who cared about doing things the right way’: Industry pays tribute to passing of veteran FDA public servant

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images
© RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images

Related tags: Fda

The dietary supplements community has paid tribute to William "Bill" Correll Jr., who was the Director of the Office of Compliance at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) until his death due to complications from COVID-19.

Correll served for over 30 years at the Food and Drug Administration, including the past seven as Director of the Office of Compliance at CFSAN where he was responsible for connecting the Center with the FDA’s field organization and for managing the compliance programs, field assignments, and work plans relating to food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics.

“He led his office in producing a remarkable volume of work to protect the public,” ​states an obituary published in The Frederick News-Post​. “Bill's knowledge, leadership, balanced approach to problem solving and finesse in taking calculated risks in the interest of consumer protection contributed to many seizures over his storied career. Importantly, during this Covid-19 pandemic, the urgency, complexity and mission critical nature of his work remained omnipresent and true to form. His drive and commitment to public health remained unabated… He was a man who dedicated his entire career to protecting others.”

Tributes

Correll is described by members of the dietary supplements industry as “even-handed”, “a straight shooter”, and “the definition of what an FDA regulator should be”.

Scott Bass, Partner at Sidley Austin LLP, told us: “Bill ruled with an even hand, and always approached contentious issues like supply disputes with careful thought and a nice demeanor,” ​said. “He knew the law well and tried at all times to take positions that kept the agency policy intact but also provided a practical outcome.”

Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of the Natural Products Association (NPA), worked with Correll during his time as director of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs (which has since been elevated to an Office).

“I loved working with him,” ​said Dr Fabricant. “He read the wall straight up and down. He understood that you cannot do everything, so he focused on bringing good cases.

Fabricant added that the Office of Compliance was the most important office at CFSAN. “Everything involved them. Any time you want to bring an enforcement action, you have to go through the Office of Compliance.

“Bill was a straight shooter, a friend and person who cared about doing things the right way at the agency​.”

“The more you knew him, the more you admired him”

Bob Durkin, Of Counsel at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP and formerly the acting Director and Deputy Director of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP), worked with Correll for many years at the FDA. “Bill was a fantastic regulator and an even better friend,” ​said Durkin. “He always appreciated the seriousness of his job, but never took himself too seriously that he wouldn’t take time for a joke or to invest in others and his team.

“The more you knew him, the more you admired him. The more you understood what he did and how he did it, the more you respected him.

“FDA has lost a remarkable regulator and I lost a dear friend.”

Kevin Bell, Partner at AGG, said: “Bill Correll was the definition of what an FDA regulator should be.  He was someone those of us working in industry considered to be a person with integrity, who truly cared about consumer safety and internally promoted the concept of “doing the right thing.”  While I’m sure he will be missed by his colleagues inside the agency, the same will be true for those of us on the outside fortunate enough to know and work on issues with him.”   

“Protecting us all from unsafe foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics”

Numerous tributes have been posted on social media from FDA colleagues.

Cara Welch, PhD, Acting Director of the Office of Dietary Supplements and Steve Tave, former Director of the Office of Dietary Supplements, issued a joint tribute: “It's impossible to capture Bill's impact in a short statement. The extraordinary work he did to protect American consumers is matched only by the genuine affection and passion he brought to that work. On a professional level, we are thankful to have had Bill as a partner; on a personal level, we are even more grateful to have called him our colleague.”

Dr Susan Mayne, CFSAN Center Director, said: “Bill had a remarkable 30-year career with FDA, 26 of them in CFSAN’s Office of Compliance. He was promoted to Acting Director of the compliance in 2013, and then to permanent Director in 2014.

“Bill was a remarkable leader, using his wry sense of humor along with incredible passion to provide oversight of CFSAN’s enforcement and administrative programs, protecting all of us from unsafe foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. 

“Bill had a unique ability to employ innovative, out-of-the box, creative thinking and a willingness to strategically take risks when the circumstances warranted. Those qualities, complemented by his careful reason, helped mitigate hundreds if not thousands of illnesses, serious injuries and deaths over the course of his career. Bill had a larger-than-life personality that all who worked with him will never forget.”

Correll was born in Peckville, Pennsylvania in 1966. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1988 with a degree in Marine Biology.

He is survived by his wife and two sons.

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