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Don't Worry, Kellyanne Conway's Handling the Opioid Crisis

Despite her not having any experience in public health whatsoever.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has made a name for herself over at the White House for developing new theories about microwave surveillance, coining the term "alternative facts," and even trying to sell some of Ivanka Trump's merchandise. Now, after not having ever worked in public health, Trump has tapped Conway to tackle a new job helming the administration's response to the opioid epidemic.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday that Conway would "coordinate and lead the effort from the White House" to combat one of the deadliest drug crises in American history, BuzzFeed News reports. Now Conway will be tasked with figuring out how to curb a public health epidemic that claimed more lives than any other drug among the more than 64,000 overdose deaths last year.


Since declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency back in August, Trump has promised the problem is a top priority for his administration but hasn't really come up with a plan to fight it. According to BuzzFeed, the national public health emergency fund has dwindled down to $66,000, and Trump hasn't asked Congress to help fill it back up.

Now, apparently, Conway will be making the issue her primary concern, though it's not exactly clear how she plans to tackle it. Some think the solution lies in putting someone in charge of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), who could better coordinate the country's response. That spot has remained empty since Republican representative Tom Marino was forced to withdraw his name from consideration in October.

"Stemming overdose deaths will take a broad interagency approach led by someone with a singular focus and extensive knowledge of the drivers of—and solutions to—the epidemic," former ONDCP official Regina LaBelle told BuzzFeed News. "Therefore, a Senate-confirmed Director of National Drug Control Policy should lead this effort."

Instead, Trump has apparently decided to just move an existing adviser into the role, despite her not having any experience in public health whatsoever. For his part, Sessions did say he would put $12 million toward drug enforcement at a state and local level—money that, until Wednesday, was supposed to be used for for police reform.

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