The Trump administration is sparking concerns over just how seriously it is taking the opioids crisis as experts at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) are apparently being pushed aside in favor of the leadership of inexperienced political appointees, Politico reports. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is overseeing the administration's efforts to combat the crisis, although her team does not have a permanent director and its top appointee for months was a 24-year-old former Trump campaign staffer. The acting director of the ONDCP, who has served in the office for decades, has reportedly not been invited to attend any of the meetings between Conway and her team.
"I haven't talked to Kellyanne at all and I'm from the worst state for this," added Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. Regina LaBelle, who served as the ONDCP's chief of staff under former President Obama, said: "I don't know what the agency is doing. I really don't. They aren't at the level of visibility you'd think they'd be at by now."
President Trump has been criticized for failing to act in any meaningful way after declaring an opioids emergency last year. "The main response so far has been to call for a border wall and to promise a 'just say no' campaign," Politico writes, adding that Trump is expected to propose "massive cuts" to the ONDCP next week.
"It's fair to say the ONDCP has pretty much been systematically excluded from key decisions about opioids and the strategy moving forward," stressed a former Trump administration official. An estimated 175 people die a day from opioids; STAT announced last year that opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade. Read more about concerns sparked by the Trump administration's approach to the crisis at Politico.