New Dopesick series about pain reliever addiction

“It’s time we redefined the essence of pain,” says Richard Sackler (Michael Stuhlbarg) at the start of the eight-part series “Dopesick”. The year is 1986 and the Sackler family and their Purdue Pharma company are about to replace the “epidemic of suffering” as Richard Sackler defines it as the result of a medical ignorance of chronic pain with another epidemic that is more than Killed half a million Americans and is set to become the leading unnatural cause of death in people under fifty.

It is an epidemic of pain medication abuse stemming from the greed, lies, and manic ambitions of the Sackler family, as well as the corrupt structures of the American Food and Drug Administration. It also exposes a version of the American dream that puts personal profit above any consideration, individual or social good.

A poison called OxyContin

The story of the Sacklers and the pain reliever OxyContin has been told many times, including by the documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney in “The Crime of the Century”. The Washington Post investigations, the findings of New York journalist and author Patrick Radden Keefe (“Empire of Pain”) and the research by Pulitzer Prize winner Barry Meier (“Pain Killer”), on which Gibney relied, have much light thrown on the background of the opioid crisis, as is Beth Macy’s book “Dopesick”, on which this fictionalized version of the same name is based.

Danny Strong’s “dopesick” – the term describes the withdrawal symptoms of addicts – tells the story from the perspective of the consumers, the pushers, the middlemen and the fighters against the unfolding catastrophe. In addition to Richard Sackler, his main characters include country doctor Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton, who himself lost a nephew to an opioid overdose) in Virginia, his young patient Betsy Mallum (Kaitlyn Dever), pharmaceutical salesman William Cutler (Will Poulter) and federal prosecutors Randy Ramseyer (John Hoogenakker) and Rick Mountcastle (Peter Sarsgard).

Finnix is ​​a widower, a sociable guy who knows his patients personally and who is not only concerned about their physical, but also their mental health. He gives his patients life advice and is such a soul of a person that Michael Keaton’s no-frills playing alone prevents him from slipping into the soap opera. But Finnix acts here as an urgently needed light in a social landscape that is riddled with pain and suffering – catastrophic accidents at work, insecurity, financial pressure put a strain on people. It is fertile ground for a pain reliever that is stronger than morphine.

The patients should be to blame

While the series is a fictionalized version of what happened, it relies on documented events; In addition to fictional characters such as Finnix and Betsy Mallum, the real actors of the drama are present here: Richard Sackler, who in an email from 2001 blamed the users of his drug for the epidemic: “You are the guilty party and the problem . They’re ruthless criminals. ”FDA Licensing Officer Curtis Wright, who classified OxyContin as harmless – and who took a high-paying job at Purdue after leaving the agency (“ Looks like corruption, but that’s how the system works, ”says in of the series an FDA officer). The federal prosecutors Ramseyer and Mountcastle, who investigated the fraudulent machinations of the Sacklers with OxyContin and brought them to the indictment. The doctor Russell Portenoy (Shane Callahan), who let the Sacklers hitch in to promote OxyContin.

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