Kennedy Scion, Former Lawmaker, Bids for Drug Czar (1)

Patrick Kennedy, a former Rhode Island congressman and as soon as the face of his household’s liberal dynasty, is looking for to move President-elect Joe Biden’s drug-control workplace.

Kennedy, who had his personal public wrestle with dependancy and psychological well being, is gathering endorsements from key gamers round Biden in a bid to move the White Home’s Workplace of Nationwide Drug Management Coverage, typically often known as the president’s drug czar. The workplace coordinates drug insurance policies starting from regulation enforcement to therapy packages.

Two leaders within the dependancy and mental-health subject are additionally thought of potential candidates to steer the ONDCP, in response to Chuck Ingoglia, president and CEO of the Nationwide Council for Behavioral Well being: H. Westley Clark, the previous director of the Heart for Substance Abuse Remedy on the Substance Abuse and Psychological Well being Providers Administration, and Kelly Clark, previous president of the American Society of Habit Drugs.

Any of these potential leaders would mark a shift for the workplace, which typically hasn’t been led by somebody from the world of dependancy therapy and drugs. President Donald Trump’s drug czar is Jim Carroll, a former White Home deputy chief of employees and counsel to the Ford Motor Co. President Barack Obama’s longest-serving ONDCP head was beforehand the commissioner of Customs and Border Safety.

The director requires Senate affirmation.

Picture: Eric Baradat/AFP by way of Getty Photos

Tablets of opioid painkiller Oxycodon delivered on medical prescription, taken Sept. 18, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Thousands and thousands of Individuals sank into dependancy after utilizing potent opioid painkillers that the businesses churned out and docs freely prescribed over the previous 20 years.

Biden will assume workplace throughout two pandemics: one attributable to Covid-19, projected to kill greater than 330,000 folks within the U.S. by early January, and one other by opioids, which contributed to greater than 71,327 overdose deaths in 2019, an all-time excessive.

The president-elect put public well being and dependancy consultants in key positions on his transition workforce. Biden picked Rahul Gupta, as soon as the state well being director for West Virginia, to steer the ONDCP company assessment workforce.

Vivek Murthy was tapped by Biden to serve once more as surgeon basic, a place he used throughout the Obama administration to name for a “tradition change” in how the nation tackles dependancy. Murthy printed the first-ever surgeon basic’s report on dependancy.

Throughout his marketing campaign, Biden called for making a massive $125 billion funding in prevention, therapy, and restoration providers, and pledged to overtake the prison justice system “in order that nobody is incarcerated for drug use alone.”

Transition Conferences

Habit teams say Kennedy, a long-time psychological well being advocate, could possibly be thought of for the job. He’s garnered suggestions from Bethany Corridor-Lengthy, the lieutenant governor of Delaware, Thomas Insel, who directed the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being throughout the Bush and Obama administrations, and former ONDCP head Michael Botticelli. Kennedy is the second son of the late Edward Kennedy, the longtime senator from Massachusetts often known as a “liberal lion,” and a nephew of President John F. Kennedy.

Patrick Kennedy stated he met with Gupta and Regina LaBelle, one other member of the ONDCP transition workforce who can be program director of the Habit and Public Coverage Initiative at Georgetown College.

Kelly Clark confirmed by e mail that she’s additionally within the place and “can be honored to serve if requested.”

Westley Clark stated by way of e mail he wish to serve within the Biden administration “ought to I be invited to affix it.”

Private Expertise

Kennedy would head the workplace with private expertise in coping with dependancy.

“As somebody dwelling in long-term restoration I do know this illness in all its kinds,” Kennedy stated.

Kennedy stated he hopes to make use of the facility of ONDCP to combine behavioral well being and dependancy therapy higher with different varieties of drugs, notably when it comes to reimbursement by insurers. Kennedy, who helped move the landmark regulation that known as for parity between psychological well being and bodily well being providers, stated the U.S. must deal with dependancy like some other continual illness.

“We’re at a second in American historical past to lastly acknowledge the illness of psychological well being sickness and dependancy and have it as a part of this bigger dialogue we’re having about public well being,” he stated.

He was a part of Trump’s opioid fee, a place he held whereas additionally serving as CEO of the Kennedy Discussion board, a nonprofit funded partially by drug firms and the pharmaceutical foyer. Kennedy was paid $1.29 million for main the Kennedy Discussion board between 2016 and 2019, the most recent tax information obtainable present.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at

To contact the editors answerable for this story: Sarah Babbage at; Robin Meszoly at

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