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U.S. Senate Confirms Indian American Dr. Rahul Gupta as the New Drug Czar

U.S. Senate Confirms Indian American Dr. Rahul Gupta as the New Drug Czar

  • He is the first medical doctor to ever lead the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Dr. Rahul Gupta as director of the National Drug Control Policy ((ONDCP) on a bipartisan basis. A thought leader and a driver of innovative public policies on health issues, the Indian American is the first medical doctor ever to hold the position. 

“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 in a White House press release. “President Biden has made clear that addressing addiction and the overdose epidemic is an urgent priority,” he said. “As director, I will diligently work to advance high-quality, data-driven strategies to make our communities healthier and safer.”

Gupta most recently served as the Chief Medical and Health Officer for the March of Dimes, a nonprofit dedicated to improving health outcomes and resources for mothers and babies. In that role, Gupta provided strategic oversight for the nonprofit’s domestic and global medical and public health efforts. 

Before that he was a clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine as well as an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Leadership in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University and visiting faculty at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

Gupta served as West Virginia’s health officer from 2015 to 2018, where he led the opioid crisis response efforts. He launched a number of pioneering public health initiatives, including the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Birthscore program to identify high-risk infants. He led the development of the state’s Zika action plan and its preparedness efforts during the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak.

Before moving to the state level, Gupta worked as health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department from 2009 to 2014. There, he oversaw responses to crises like the Freedom Industries chemical spill in 2014 and the swine flu in 2009.

Several officials from West Virginia, including Sen. Joe Manchin, hailed Gupta’s confirmation. In an Oct. 29 statement, Manchin called Gupta “yet another extraordinary West Virginian,” and said he “intimately understands the needs of communities across America.” Manchin said Gupta’s “work to combat the drug epidemic in a state with the worst overdose rate in the nation, makes him well-prepared to lead similar efforts on a national scale.”

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Similarly, the Kanawha County Commission released a joint statement praising Gupta for his “impeccable” leadership abilities. “He truly cares about addiction problems and will ensure that services to rural areas will be at the forefront of his platform,” the statement read.

A practicing primary care physician of 25 years, Dr. Gupta began his career in private practice in an underserved community of fewer than 2,000 residents. The son of an Indian diplomat, Rahul was born in India and grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. At age 21, he completed medical school at the University of Delhi. He earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama-Birmingham and a global master’s of business administration degree from the London School of Business and Finance. He is married to Dr. Seema Gupta, a physician in the Veterans Administration for over a decade. They are the proud parents of identical twin sons, Arka and Drew.

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