Press Room

ASTHO Member and West Virginia Health Commissioner Rahul Gupta Testifies on Nation’s Opioid Epidemic 

ARLINGTON, VA (May 17, 2018)—Rahul Gupta, commissioner and state health officer at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health, testified today on the nation’s opioid epidemic before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing, “A Sustainable Solution to the Evolving Opioid Crisis: Revitalizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy,” provided members of Congress the opportunity to discuss reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy to elevate evidence-based initiatives to combat the current opioid crisis. 

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) is pleased Congress continues to address the greatest public health threat facing Americans today. The nation’s state and territorial health agencies are on the front lines combating the current substance misuse, addiction, and drug overdose crisis and it is vital that Congress and the Administration support efforts to end the epidemic.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent West Virginia and discuss the twin challenges of overprescribing opioids for pain and the growing use of heroin, often adulterated with fentanyl. West Virginia continues to experience the highest rate of overdose fatalities in the nation and is also enduring a surge in the rate of neonatal abstinence syndrome,” says Gupta. “Collectively, states and territories recognize the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. To develop sustainable solutions to this contemporary challenge we need authentic national leadership, expanded access to evidence-based treatment, and increased focus on primary prevention strategies to avert drug use and misuse before it starts. I will continue to work tirelessly in my state to address those areas, but we rely on a strong partnership with the federal government. To implement these solutions, it is critical that we take a comprehensive, science-driven approach that combines the efforts of federal, state, and local agencies, along with other organizations and industries. The hearing today was a very important first step in that process.” 

For more information on the hearing, visit the committee's website.

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ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely-associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.