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President Trump announced Wednesday his appointments to serve on a bipartisan commission aimed at tackling the opioid epidemic.
Membership includes officials known for their work on issues related to prescription painkillers and heroin. The list includes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and psychobiologist Bertha Madras.
Trump officially tapped Christie to helm the commission, an announcement that was made in March. During Christie’s presidential bid, he gave a personal speech about addition, and curbing the opioid epidemic was a tenant of his campaign.
In North Carolina, Cooper’s proposed budget included providing $12.7 million in fiscal year 2017-2018 and $11.5 million in fiscal year 2018-19 for opioid addiction treatment and prevention, according to Greensboro News and Record.
Baker refused to support Trump in the election, but has a history of tackling the opioid epidemic in his state. Last year, he signed into law a measure restricting initial opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply and requiring hospitals screen patients who appear to be suffering from an opioid overdose for substance abuse, according to The Boston Globe.
Kennedy is a vocal mental health and addiction advocate who has been open about his struggle with addiction.
Madras is a former deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Trump’s budget has proposed slashing this anti-drug office by 95 percent.
In March, Trump created the opioid commission through an executive order and gave its members 90 days to craft interim recommendations on how to address drug addiction. A final report is due Oct. 1.
The commission has received some criticism from observers who think the issue has already been analyzed and prefer to see more concrete actions aimed at curbing the rate of fatal opioid overdoses, which has quadrupled since 1999.