WEDNESDAY, July 14, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- President Joe Biden plans to nominate Dr. Rahul Gupta as the head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Gupta led the Biden transition team for that office, was the former health commissioner of West Virginia, and is chief medical and health officer for the March of Dimes, CNN reported.
If confirmed as the so-called drug czar, Gupta would be the first physician named to the position, CNN said.
"Dr. Gupta brings firsthand experience as a medical doctor and public health official using evidence-based strategies to address the overdose epidemic in West Virginia. We hope he will be confirmed by the Senate soon," a White House spokesperson said Tuesday, CNN reported.
The nomination of Gupta, long seen as a favorite of the administration, has been supported by moderate Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin -- a key vote in the Senate.
Manchin praised Gupta's nomination, saying in a statement that the appointment "means someone with firsthand knowledge of the opioid crisis, especially in West Virginia, will be coordinating the national fight against the drug epidemic that continues to ravage our nation."
March of Dimes President and CEO Stacey Stewart said in a statement that "as the first ever physician to be nominated to this office, he brings a wealth of on-the-ground expertise."
"Dr. Gupta led efforts in West Virginia to address the opioid crisis, gaining national prominence as a leader in tackling this issue," Stewart said. "At March of Dimes, he has advocated for policies and programs to prevent and treat substance use, with a focus on the safety and care of pregnant women and infants."
Gupta's nomination comes not a moment too soon, as the nation continues to struggle with rising overdose deaths. Late last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of a "substantial increase" in fatal drug overdoses coinciding with the pandemic, CNN reported.
Visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse for more on drug abuse.