Two governors, a former congressman in recovery, and an addiction researcher are set to join New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on President Trump’s opioid panel.
The White House announced Wednesday that the president intended to appoint Republican Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina to the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
The other new members are Patrick Kennedy, a former Rhode Island congressman who has spoken of his own addiction issues, and Bertha Madras, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Massachusetts.
Trump tapped Christie, who has earned plaudits for his work on the opioid epidemic as governor, back in March to lead the commission, which did not have any other members until now. Cooper and Baker are both from states hard hit by addiction.
Kennedy has become a well-known advocate for addiction and mental health treatment. Most recently, he has been working with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as paid advisers to the group Advocates for Opioid Recovery. That group is backed financially by Braeburn Pharmaceuticals Inc., which makes a new opioid-addiction medication.
Madras, who studies the biology of addiction, formerly served in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in the George W. Bush administration.
In New Hampshire Wednesday, as part of the administration’s opioid listening sessions across the country, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway highlighted the commission as a step that shows Trump is dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic. She said it would come out with a report this year with its recommendations.
“We look at this as a nonpartisan issue in need of a bipartisan solution,” Conway said.
Some critics of the commission have noted that the issue has already been studied thoroughly and that experts have already issued many recommendations on the subject, including a sweeping report last year from former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.