Kellyanne Conway to spearhead White House response to opioid crisis

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway will take the helm of the Trump White House's response to America's ongoing opioid overdose and addiction epidemic, according to comments made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday.

The announcement from Mr. Sessions came during a press briefing on the Department of Justice's efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Mr. Sessions said President Donald Trump asked Ms. Conway "to coordinate and lead the efforts from the White House."

Andrew Kolodny, MD, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University's Heller School in Waltham, Mass., told BuzzFeed News the move is a "positive sign."

"She is a high-profile figure in the administration, showing the administration takes this seriously," said Dr. Kolodny.

However, Dr. Kolodny pointed out that the administration has yet to take a number of necessary actions to address the crisis. The administration has yet to appoint a director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and has not released a comprehensive strategy to address the crisis or requested funding from Congress to replenish the national public health emergency fund. The fund — which was made available to address the crisis when President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in October — currently holds $66,000.

"Stemming overdose deaths will take a broad interagency approach led by someone with a singular focus and extensive knowledge of the drivers of — and solutions to — the epidemic," Regina LaBelle, a former ONDCP official, told BuzzFeed News via email. "Therefore, a Senate confirmed Director of National Drug Control Policy should lead this effort … It's a national emergency — let's treat it like one."

While Ms. Conway does have a law degree, she has no formal experience in drug policy or law enforcement, according to Newsweek

More articles on opioids: 
DEA mandates 20% reduction in opioid manufacturing for 2018 
1 in 6 ER visits in Q2 were opioid related 
1 in 4 Arizona teens prescribed opioids misuse the drugs

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