WASHINGTON (WOWK)—On Thursday, the United States Senate confirmed former West Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta as Director of National Drug Control Policy for the United States. He is the first medical doctor to ever lead the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

“As a practicing physician and former health official who has served in rural communities, I have seen firsthand the heartbreaking toll of addiction and overdose in our communities, but I have also seen how we can save lives if we understand the individuals behind the statistics and meet them where they are,” said Dr. Gupta. “President Biden has made clear that addressing addiction and the overdose epidemic is an urgent priority. As Director, I will diligently work to advance high-quality, data-driven strategies to make our communities healthier and safer.”

Health Officer and Executive Director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Dr. Sherri Young said the following regarding Dr. Gupta’s confirmation:

“I congratulate my friend and former colleague Dr. Rahul Gupta on his confirmation as the United States’ next Drug Czar. Dr. Gupta brings a wealth of knowledge to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and I know he will bring a unique and valued perspective on the drug crisis facing this nation, especially rural America. Dr. Gupta was a strong leader at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, and I look forward to his service in his new role.”

The Kanawha County Commission issued the following joint statement about Dr. Gupta’s confirmation:

“The announcement of Dr. Gupta being named the White House Drug Czar is great news for the State of West Virginia.  Dr. Gupta served Kanawha County as the Chief Health Officer from 2009 until 2014 and led Kanawha County through the 2014 Water Crisis.  His leadership abilities are impeccable.  He truly cares about addiction problems and will ensure that services to rural areas will be at the forefront of his platform.  We cannot thank Senators Manchin and Capito enough for leading the effort to make this happen.  We Congratulate Dr. Gupta, his wife, Seema, and two sons, Arka and Drew, on this great announcement,” stated the Kanawha County Commissioners. 

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin released this statement regarding Dr. Gupta’s confirmation:

“Last night, yet another extraordinary West Virginian was confirmed to serve the American people, Dr. Rahul Gupta. As I said during his confirmation hearing, Dr. Gupta intimately understands the needs of communities across America, and would be the first physician ever to hold this position. His work to combat the drug epidemic in a state with the worst overdose rate in the nation, where we lost 1,386 West Virginians to fatal drug-related overdoses last year, makes him well-prepared to lead similar efforts on a national scale. I have no doubt he will be a dedicated Director of the ONDCP, and I congratulate Dr. Gupta on his well-deserved confirmation.”

Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch of the West Virginia DHHR said the following about Dr. Gupta’s confirmation:

“Under Dr. Gupta’s leadership, West Virginia engaged early in the drug epidemic as so many residents were impacted by this crisis. Dr. Gupta spearheaded the creation of West Virginia’s first Office of Drug Control Policy and set forth the development of a comprehensive approach to transform West Virginia’s long-term treatment and recovery landscape. He understood how our state was impacted by the addiction crisis and pushed for the implementation of evidence-based prevention programs and the expansion of treatment and recovery programs. We are very proud of his accomplishments and wish him the very best with his new endeavor.”