Spotlight on Award-Winning Dr. Anita Gupta

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Dr. Anita Gupta is a 2017-18 Princeton University Robertson Fellow and Masters Public Policy Candidate at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She is an internationally recognized physician advocate on improving innovation, advancing healthcare, improving quality and policy related to the opioid epidemic. Gupta is an Anesthesiologist, Pain Specialist, Pharmacist and an awarding winning physician from AAMC and has been a trusted FDA Advisor and practicing anesthesiologist and pain specialist.


anitaelucidLilly Rivera (Makeup) and Manish Mavani (Photography) 


She previously has been a fellow of the Institute of Coaching at McLean/Harvard Medical School and at the Wharton Total Leadership Program, and has been a working group member of the GIEESC/World Health Organization member, community founder of the Society of Women in Medicine, and has been featured as a medical expert on CNN, Fox News, and NBC.

She has been the recipient of the National Patients and Compassionate Physician Choice Award in 2016, and author of internationally selling textbooks by Oxford University Press, Interventional Pain Medicine and Pharmacology in Anesthesia Practice. She completed the medical advocacy fellowship with the Mayday Foundation in Washington DC. Well-spoken in a variety of health topics.


 Dr. Gupta is called regularly to discuss high profile medical news most recently on celebrities including:

 Tiger Woods, Bill Cosby, Angelina Jolie, Prince, and Lady Gaga to name a few. Dr. Gupta's contributions have earned her countless awards for service, research and expertise in medicine and health. She has been an invited presenter at prominent forums for her work, service, and expertise. Gupta completed her Doctorate in Pharmacy at Rutgers and her medical degree from UMDNJ and her residency in anesthesiology at Georgetown University Hospital and National Institutes of Health. Following residency, Dr. Gupta completed a pain fellowship from the Johns Hopkins University.


Dr. Gupta conducted a fascinating Q and A with our editors!


1: What motivated you to go into medicine? 

Growing up in a small town in New Jersey that tended to have a diverse population with relatively lower socio-economic status had a significant impact on my life. Some in my town had significant barriers to access health care. I was able to observe some of these barriers first hand and much of this has shaped who I am and who I strive to become. My family and friends experienced many of these barriers both socially and economically and had neither the cultural knowledge nor empowerment to navigate our complex medical system. This motivated me to go into medicine and continues my passion to give back and make impact in society for those who need it the most.


2: Can you share some good experiences in your medical career helping patients?

 The best experience in health care I have had occurred at a young age before I became a physician. Even as a young adult, access to healthcare felt like a right and also a great privilege.  When I was sick or a family member was, going to the doctor and getting access to good doctors who cared has shaped who I am today. As a young child remembering the first time, a doctor took command of science and language to thoroughly explain staying healthy is a vision of who I am and who I continue strive to be a physician. Going beyond the presenting illness, allows a patient to share their story, and help ease worry - this is what all physicians should always do. I was surprised how in just a few minutes with a caring and communicative physician, patients can go from being distressed to wearing a smile with relief in finding a pillar of support. I admire how compassionate doctors can restore a patient’s voice and heal in one visit. This has inspired me to seek out a helping profession and to be a voice for those who may need it. I have also learned a great deal from my patients and I am grateful to them.

Public policy and advocacy provides the unique opportunity to amplify these voices and ultimately help a greater number of people achieve their health goals. With a little knowledge and compassion, medicine can become a universal language and carefully designed public policy can be the vehicle in which we travel to a broader health care system that better serves patients. My small town played an integral role in molding these perspectives.


3: You have been an advocate on fighting the war on the opioid epidemic -why is it on is on the rise?

Opioid misuse and overdose have reached epidemic proportions, with millions of Americans facing off with addiction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that deaths from prescription opioid pain medication overdose in the United States quadrupled between 1999 and 2011. One of the main causes of the abuse and overdose of opioids is associated with the increase of prescriptions for opioid pain medications people were receiving, especially prescriptions with a higher dosage and longer course of treatment.  The reason for the spike in prescriptions is primarily due to concerns about sufficiently treating pain in patients as well as lack of accurate information and statistics about how opioid can be potentially addictive.


 4- Is this a problem from Hollywood to Inner Cities?

Yes, here are some statistics:

  • If nothing is done, we can expect a lot of people to die
  • 650,000 people will die over the next 10 years from opioid overdoses — more than the entire city of Baltimore.
  • The US risks losing the equivalent of a whole American city in just one decade.
  • That would be on top of all the death that America has already seen during the ongoing opioid epidemic.
  • In 2015, more than 52,000 people died of drug overdoses in America — about two-thirds of which were linked to opioids.
  • The toll is on its way up, with an analysis of preliminary data from the New York Times finding that 59,000 to 65,000 likely died from drug overdoses in 2016.   


5: How can this epidemic be stopped?

In order  to mitigate this epidemic, a multipronged strategy is necessary to reduce the misuse, abuse, and diversion of prescription opioid medications which can lead to unintended consequences, including deaths.  The solutions to this public health epidemic require collaboration among multiple entities, including federal and state policymakers and representatives from the judicial branch, physicians and other health care professionals, patients, educators, and public health officials.  As federal and state governments and local communities grapple with solutions, it is necessary to include the following initiatives as part of a comprehensive solution to the prescription opioid epidemic.  Making sure that health care providers are aware of the risks and complications involved in opioid prescriptions is the first step. States can support training for health care professionals, provide guidelines for prescribing opioids and also provide clinician feedback on prescribing. These can help providers take a deeper look at the big picture of the patient, the reasons for pain, history of substance abuse, medications that might poorly interact and other risk factors. 

Prescription opioids can be an important part of improving the quality of life and helping with pain reduction for millions of Americans. But the misuse, addiction and overdoses related to these prescriptions have created an epidemic that now poses a serious public health problem in the United States. In order to properly address this crisis, it is crucial to focus on preventing new instances of opioid addiction by limiting prescriptions when possible, identifying individuals in the early stages of addiction and ensuring that patients have access to effective addiction treatment. It's also essential for states to ensure that health care providers are properly educated on the potential harm of opioid prescriptions and are able to more completely assess whether or not a patient is a good candidate for opioids.


8: Can you share a little about your national policy work?

I am committed to public service and have had the honor to participate in the advocacy efforts of some of our nation’s great institutions. As a physician and public advocate for the safe and responsible use of opioids, I have taken a leadership role and advised local, regional, stakeholders on formulation of U.S. healthcare policy and related legislation and initiatives with respect to the opioid abuse epidemic. During my career as a pain specialist over the last ten years, I have treated numerous patients that were battling addiction to opioids. As a result, my research interests, arising from a desire to help my patients, tended to cross over to domestic health policy issues specifically as it relates to the drug and opioid abuse epidemic. Over these years, I became increasingly convinced that it is essential for me to have a firm foundation of knowledge in the principles and applications of public policy analysis tools and techniques and most recently am focused on working on studying domestic policy at Princeton University at the Woodrow Wilson School in Princeton, New Jersey.


Thank you to the prominent Dr. Gupta for taking the time to share this important information with our readers.

You can learn more about Dr. Gupta at:

Twitter @DocAnitaGupta

Facebook @DocAnitaGupta


Anita Gupta

Jonathan Wilson (Photography)

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