President Trump nominated Indiana's health commissioner to serve as the next US surgeon general on Thursday, selecting an anesthesiologist who promoted needle exchange programs while serving under Vice President Mike Pence. The White House said Trump nominated Dr. Jerome Adams to serve as the nation's chief doctor. Adams was appointed by Pence, then Indiana's governor, to serve as the state's health commissioner in 2014 and was reappointed earlier this year by Gov. Eric Holcomb. Adams has been a prominent backer of allowing counties to start needle exchange programs aimed at stemming the spread of diseases among intravenous drug users as the state struggles with opioid abuse, the AP reports.
As Indiana's health commissioner, Adams oversaw the needle exchange effort, which Pence reluctantly supported in 2015 after more than 180 HIV cases in a rural southern Indiana county were blamed on needle-sharing among people injecting a liquefied painkiller. "Syringe exchanges aren't pretty. They make people uncomfortable," Adams wrote in a blog post last week. "But the opioid epidemic is far uglier. It affects the student athlete who gets hooked on the pain pills he was prescribed for a sports injury. It affects the grandmother with chronic pain issues. The faces of this epidemic are our children, our friends, our neighbors." If confirmed by the Senate, Adams will succeed Obama appointee Dr. Vivek Murthy. (Read more Surgeon General stories.)