Biden Picks Indian American Former West Virginia Health Official as New ‘Drug Czar’
Dr. Rahul Gupta (right), Indian American Commissioner with the Bureau of Public Health, Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia; and Brittany Combs (left), director of Public Health Nursing in Scott County, Indiana, participate in a panel discussion at “Making AIDS History: A Roadmap for Ending the Epidemic” at the Hart Senate Building on June 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
By ZEKE MILLER/Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is nominating West Virginia’s former health commissioner as the nation’s top anti-drug official, tapping a doctor who served on the front lines of the nation’s opioid epidemic.
The White House said July 13 that Dr. Rahul Gupta will be the first physician to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, also known as the “drug czar.”
The nomination drew bipartisan praise from West Virginia officials. Republican Gov. Jim Justice called it “great news,” and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said the pick “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.”
“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,” Manchin said in a statement.
Gupta most recently served as the chief medical and health officer at March of Dimes.
India-West Staff Reporter adds: The son of an Indian diplomat, Gupta was born in India and grew up in Washington, D.C., according to the New York Times. The Indian American completed medical school at the University of Delhi when he was 21, according to a biography supplied by the White House.