Former Trump aide seeks to fight drug abuse, addiction in his new role

President Trump’s former domestic policy adviser is joining the board of directors of Verde Technologies, a company that produces a drug “deactivation” system to dispose of unused medications.

Joe Grogan, who stepped down as White House Domestic Policy Council director in May, said in an interview that he plans to use his new position to raise awareness about the issues of drug addiction and overdose. The company’s product, he said, is a way to confront those problems by helping destroy drugs in an environmentally responsible way and prevent the misuse of medications.

“This is a small way to contribute to the fight against addiction,” Grogan told The Hill.

Grogan’s return to the private sector comes after roughly three and a half years working in the Trump administration.

He worked as a lobbyist for Gilead Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company, before joining the administration in early 2017. Grogan also worked at the Food and Drug Administration during the George W. Bush years.

Verde Technologies is a Minneapolis-based company that manufactures the Deterra Drug Deactivation System, essentially a biodegradable pouch that disables medications and allows them to be thrown away.

Grogan was involved in efforts to combat opioid addiction and drug abuse during his time working in the White House both in the Office of Management and Budget and, later, leading the Domestic Policy Council. In the latter role, he oversaw a broad portfolio of policy issues, including health care and regulation.

He stepped down from the position earlier this year, having spent longer time in government than he intended; Grogan said he initially told his wife he would only stay two years in the administration.

He left the West Wing a week earlier than he initially planned after the president’s military valet tested positive for the coronavirus.

“One less body wandering around the White House was fine,” Grogan said.

His exit came amid other staffing shifts following the arrival of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Grogan emphasized the need for more attention to be paid to mental health and addiction issues given the coronavirus pandemic, which has shown signs of exacerbating substance abuse, and he said his new role would give him the opportunity to raise awareness. Estimates show that overdoses have increased nationally during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, COVID has really caused a massive backslide in the mental health challenges that Americans are facing,” said Grogan.