Trump to nominate White House aide for drug czar: White House

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump intends to nominate White House aide Jim Carroll to serve as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a post popularly known as the drug czar, the White House said in a statement on Friday.

Carroll, who currently serves as White House deputy chief of staff, must be confirmed by the Senate.

As drug czar, Carroll would coordinate the administration’s response to an epidemic of opioid overdoses that is killing tens of thousands of Americans annually and the problem of illegal drug use.

“We have full confidence in Jim to lead ONDCP to make significant strides in combating the opioids crisis, reducing drug use, and coordinating U.S. drug policy,” the White House said.

Trump’s previous pick for drug czar, Republican Representative Tom Marino, withdrew his nomination in October after a media report he spearheaded a bill that hurt the government’s ability to crack down on opioid makers flooding the market with the addictive painkillers.

Before joining the White House, Carroll, a lawyer, worked for the Ford Motor Co. He has also held posts at the U.S. Treasury and Justice Department.

Trump has been criticized for his response to the opioid epidemic. He has yet to declare it a national emergency as he pledged to do in August following a recommendation by a presidential commission.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were responsible for more than 33,000 U.S. deaths in 2015, the latest year for which data is available. Estimates show the death rate has continued rising.

Reporting by Eric Beech; editing by Eric Walsh and Tom Brown