Trump Taps Indiana’s Health Commissioner as Next Surgeon General

FRIDAY, June 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Dr. Jerome Adams, Indiana’s Health Commissioner and an advocate for needle-exchange programs with a tough stance on the opioid crisis, has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the next U.S. surgeon general.

Leaders in health and medicine applauded the nomination.

“From everything I’ve seen, Dr. Adams is a very serious and capable physician and public health official,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, an official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during the Obama era.

Sharfstein said that a state health officer typically works outside of politics. “This is an opportunity to speak to the problems as they are, and not as they are viewed through an ideological prism,” he told The New York Times.

“Dr. Adams has a proven track record to make public health a priority despite political hurdles,” echoed Charles Rothberg, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York. He told the Times that Adams is “in touch with the public needs.”

Adams, 42, trained as an anesthesiologist and will replace acting surgeon general Sylvia Trent-Adams, who replaced Obama administration appointee Dr. Vivek Murthy. The surgeon general is often called “the nation’s doctor” and oversees more than 6,700 public health officers.

Surgeon generals typically use their position to focus on key issues of public health. In his role as Indiana State Health Commissioner, Adams made the controversial decision to support needle-exchange programs after an outbreak of HIV infection hit a rural county in that state.

Appointed to the post by then-governor Mike Pence, Adams recalled that “the governor looked to me and he looked to CDC and said, ‘What do we need to do to respond to this outbreak?'”

Speaking with the Times, Adams said that “the CDC felt strongly, and I agreed, that providing syringes was the appropriate response, that this is an extraordinary situation that requires extraordinary measures.”

Implementation of the program is now credited with curbing that outbreak, which had spread among people abusing the prescription painkiller Opana.

Adams has long warned of the dangers of prescription opioid painkillers, and the issue will likely be a focus of his tenure as surgeon general.

Adams is married with three children, and has received bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and biopsychology from the University of Maryland. He earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley, and his M.D. at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

According to his LinkedIn page, Adams is also assistant professor of anesthesiology at Indiana University Health and cares for patients at Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis’ publicly funded hospital, the Times said.

More information

Here’s more on the surgeon general’s job at the U.S. Office of the Surgeon General.

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