Trump's drug czar nominee Tom Marino withdraws from consideration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Tom Marino, his pick as the U.S. drug czar, has withdrawn after it became public that the congressman advocated for legislation undermining the government’s ability to crack down on pharmaceutical companies that play a role in the nation’s opioid crisis.

Trump had pegged Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican, to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a post that required Senate confirmation.

Trump wrote on Twitter: “Rep. Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar. Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!”

RELATED: Photos of Rep. Tom Marino

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UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., participates in the House GOP leadership press conference after the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 1: Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., speaks during the House Republican freshmen news conference marking the first day that 'all non-exempt employers are required to provide health care coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs or else pay a steep tax' on Wednesday, August 1, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 04: Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) talks with Grammy Award-winning American songwriter and record producer Harvey Mason, Jr., at the Holiday event with Harvey Mason Jr. at The Recording Academy on December 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage for NARAS)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: Todd Dupler and Daryl Friedman of The Recording Academy look on as GRAMMY winning composer and conductor and Recording Academy board member Maria Schneider greets Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) at Rayburn House Office Building on March 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage for NARAS)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 18: Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., is interviewed by Roll Call in his Cannon Building office about his bouts with cancer. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) (L) speaks during a news conference about the budget continuing resolution passed by the House near midnight with Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) (C) and Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) September 23, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Republicans said that Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is playing politics when he says the bill does not include enough money for disaster relief and will not take up the legislation. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES ? SEPTEMBER 23: Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., speaks during a news conference on the continuing resolution and FEMA funding on Friday Sept. 23, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 04: Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) and Jaclyn Louis talk with Diane Blagman of the Recording Academy at Holiday event with Harvey Mason Jr. at The Recording Academy on December 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage for NARAS)
UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., speaks outside of the White House with other freshman republican members after sending a letter to President Obama urging him to release to Congress his plan to deal with the debt ceiling issue. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 18: Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., poses in Cannon Building for a Roll Call story about his bouts with cancer. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson (L) listens to Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) (R) before a House Judiciary committee hearing on the 'Oversight of the US Department of Homeland Security' on Capitol Hill in Washington July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Tom Marino, Congressman of Pennsylvania, talks with Andrew Wilkow during an episode of The Wilkow Majority on SiriusXM Patriot at Quicken Loans Arena on July 21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., left, and Tom Marino, R-Pa., make their way to a meeting of the House Republican Conference where Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced the vote for American Health Care Act had been canceled, March 24, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: Reps. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., left, and Tom Marino, R-Pa., attend the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 20, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 28: Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Tom Marino, R-Pa., attend a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on oversight of the FBI featuring testimony by Director James Comey, September 28, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
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The Trump administration has taken criticism for its response to the opioid epidemic.

Trump said on Aug. 10 he would declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, but has not yet done so. Such a declaration would help unlock resources including additional funding and expanded access to various forms of treatment, and would give the government more flexibility in waiving rules and restrictions to expedite action.

Asked about the emergency declaration at a news conference on Monday, Trump said, “We are going to be doing that next week. ... It’s a very important step. And to get to that step, a lot of work has to be done, and it’s time-consuming work.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 33,000 deaths were linked to opioids in 2015, the last year with publicly available data.

The Washington Post and CBS News published an investigation on Sunday that showed that Marino had worked to weaken federal efforts to slow the flow of opioid drugs.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the administration continues to think “very highly” of Marino.

A spokeswoman for Tom Marino’s office said the congressman had no immediate comment.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Will Dunham

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