Biden picks former West Virginia health official as nation’s drug czar

The three-decade-old drug policy office — which was created with the support of Biden, who coined the term “drug czar” in 1982 — coordinates national policy around fighting substance-use disorders, including the response to an opioid crisis that has worsened during the pandemic. Overdose deaths rose nearly 30 percent from November 2019 to November 2020, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Police reports in Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populous county, show that fatal opioid overdoses are up 33 percent, and nonfatal overdoses are up 57 percent, this year as of the end of June, compared with the same period in 2020.

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