CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice confirms Dr. Rahul Gupta is set to be nominated by President Joe Biden this afternoon, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, to be the next director of the National Drug Control Policy Office at the White House.
Gupta is a former West Virginia Public Health Officer and a former Kanawha-Charleston Health Director. He is best known for helping guide West Virginia through some of the worst days in the opioid crisis. Gupta then went on to work for the March of Dimes.
“It is great news that President Biden is going to nominate as our chief drug czar all across our country a West Virginian, Dr. Gupta,” Justice said. “I have full confidence that Dr. Gupta will continue his distinguished record of public service on behalf of all Americans, while also putting a positive spotlight on the high quality of professionals we have working in West Virginia every day. I wish Dr. Gupta nothing but success in this critical role.”
Justice praised the work Gupta has done to help curb the opioid crisis in the Mountain State.
“A man that did incredible work here on the opioids,” Justice said. “To have him plugged into that position can only make things better and better for West Virginia.”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says Gupta would bring more than a decade of extensive experience to the effort to end the nation’s drug epidemic.
“Dr. Rahul Gupta’s nomination to serve as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy 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. West Virginia has continued to lead the country in drug overdose rates for over 20 years. Dr. Gupta will bring over a decade of extensive experience combatting the drug epidemic to ONDCP – the office charged with addressing the drug epidemic that has killed over 90,000 Americans just last year. He will also be the first physician in charge of ONDCP, bringing needed medical knowledge to this public health crisis.”U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)
More support from around the Mountain State has poured in for Dr. Gupta this afternoon from Minority Leader Senator Stephen Baldwin (D-Greenbrier) and Minority Whip Senator Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell). The two praised Gupta’s work in both Kanawha County and the state, not only in the opioid crisis, but also as a leader during crisises such as the 2014 Elk River chemical spill and the 2016 floods.
Gupta was awarded West Virginian of the Year in 2017.
“We join with our colleagues in congratulating Dr. Rahul Gupta on his appointment to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Dr. Gupta served here in West Virginia with heartfelt sincerity and the utmost professionalism. President Biden has shown favor to West Virginians through his appointments, and we applaud this leadership choice. Dr. Gupta’s selection is good news for the American people as we seek to combat the trauma of substance abuse.
Dr. Gupta began important work in combating the opioid crisis here in the Mountain State, and left big shoes to fill. Currently, we do not have a full-time drug czar at the cabinet level in West Virginia. SB 715, which would have created a State Recovery & Hope Office and put one full-time person in place as drug czar, died in the House this year. As we rightly and unanimously praise Dr. Gupta’s selection today for the good of our nation, let us not forget that we still need a full-time drug czar in West Virginia to continue his efforts.”Minority Leader Senator Stephen Baldwin (D-Greenbrier).
“Once again, the Senate led on a critical issue and the House majority failed to enact overdue critical responses to the opioid crisis,” said Minority Whip Senator Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell). “Dr. Gupta recently testified in the first national opioid litigation, where I was present representing Cabell County. His testimony was compelling and his leadership in this field is unmatched.”