WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former state Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta appears on his way to confirmation as the nation’s next drug czar.
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved Gupta’s nomination from President Joe Biden in a voice vote Thursday. It now goes to the full Senate.
Committee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, expressed support for Gupta as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy before the vote.
“Dr. Gupta would be the first medical doctor to serve in that position. He is certainly qualified,” Durbin said.
He also mentioned Gupta has the support of both of West Virginia’s U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.
“Senator Capito noted in her introduction that Dr. Gupta brings ‘a wealth of real-world experience necessary to confront the realities of today’s addiction crisis,’ I couldn’t agree more,” Durbin said.
Gupta most recently has been senior vice president for the March of Dimes. Prior to that, Gupta had served under two governors as West Virginia’s health commissioner. As the chief health officer, he led West Virginia’s opioid epidemic response efforts.
Gupta originally moved to West Virginia to lead the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. He has been an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Leadership in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University.
The voice vote was not unanimous. Three Republican senators, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee; Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri; and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, recorded their votes against the nomination.
The nomination hasn’t yet been scheduled for a full Senate vote.