West Virginia’s Dr Rahul Gupta is now the country’s drug czar
CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Dr Rahul Gupta was sworn in today as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy – informally known as the country’s “drug czar”. His appointment comes as the country has recorded more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would like to state that the challenge of saving lives has never been greater,” said Dr Rahul Gupta, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Dr Gupta was for years director of the Kanawha-Charleston Department of Health, and later became the state’s public health officer. Gupta’s access to President Biden, especially on opioid issues, is seen as crucial.
“Absolutely between him and Senator Manchin, I think they will both have the President’s ear on a whole host of issues. And I think West Virginia can only benefit from the President’s ear in this regard, ”said State Senator Richard Lindsay, (D) Kanawha.
The Appalachian region in general, and West Virginia in particular, have one of the worst overdose death rates in the country. Many state lawmakers say they need to focus on a mix of prevention, law enforcement and treatment during their next session in January.
“We have to collaborate and this is the most important key. No one will be able to fix this problem. We have to find ways to come together as a community, as families and as a state to try to help these people, ”said Del. Evan Worrell, (R) Cabell.
“We have to be able to come up with a place where people can go and get significant treatment over a period of time,” State Senator Lindsay said.
One of the biggest issues now is the increase in heroin linked to fentanyl, which makes it much more deadly.
“There is pressure for more police action, especially with so much drug trafficking coming from other states. But advocates often say we just can’t stop and get out of this problem, ”said Mark Curtis, 13 News chief political reporter.
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