The origins of the opioid crisis are exploded in Dopesick, a new Hulu series based on the non-fiction book by Beth Macy. In the 1990s, all the way up until today, America has been seized by an epidemic involving OxyContin, a so-called “miracle drug” designed to release Oxycodone at dangerous levels. When Purdue Pharma first introduced the drug onto the market, they blatantly downplayed the addictive qualities and had their sales force go out and aggressively push the pills on doctors, who would then hand them out to patients. The results were disastrous. As of 2016, at least 453,300 Americans have died from opioids. Now, the behind-the-scenes story of how this happened heads to Hulu, featuring Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, and more. Watch the Dopesick trailer below.
Hindsight is 20/20, and we can look back at the actions of Big Pharma right now regarding the opioid crisis and say, “Well, obviously, something bad was bound to happen.” But for years, Perdue Pharma managed to fleece medical professionals into believing their miracle drug OxyContin was non-habit forming. And when addictions spiked, Perdue tried to play that off by saying only drug addicts get addicted – “normal” people will be fine. It was all nonsense, of course, and the end result was a full-blown crisis. And now it’s become a Hulu series. Here’s the synopsis:
Dopesick examines how one company triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history. The series takes viewers to the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction, from the boardrooms of Purdue Pharma, to a distressed Virginia mining community, to the hallways of the DEA. The unsparing yet deeply human portraits of the various families affected by Oxycontin addiction and their intersecting stories hold up a mirror to this American tragedy, while shining a hopeful light on the heroes battling the craven corporate forces behind this national crisis.
The series is written by Danny Strong and directed by Barry Levinson. The cast includes Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Poulter, John Hoogenakker, with Kaitlyn Dever, and Rosario Dawson, and guest stars Phillipa Soo and Jake McDorman. The eight-episode miniseries hits Hulu on October 13, 2021.
One of the Most Important Stories of Our Time
When the series was first announced, Danny Strong said: “The opioid crisis is one of the most important stories of our time and I’m honored to not only pay tribute to its victims but to shine a light on the heroes that fought back. Laws were broken and many lies were told. The system failed us and Dopesick is going to show everyone how it all happened.” For more insight into all of this, let’s take a look at the full synopsis of Beth Macy’s book:
In this extraordinary work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of a national drama that has unfolded over two decades. From the labs and marketing departments of big pharma to local doctor’s offices; wealthy suburbs to distressed small communities in Central Appalachia; from distant cities to once-idyllic farm towns; the spread of opioid addiction follows a tortuous trajectory that illustrates how this crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched.
Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy sets out to answer a grieving mother’s question-why her only son died-and comes away with a gripping, unputdownable story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy investigates the powerful forces that led America’s doctors and patients to embrace a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same communities featured in her bestselling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.
Through unsparing, compelling, and unforgettably humane portraits of families and first responders determined to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows that one thing uniting Americans across geographic, partisan, and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But even in the midst of twin crises in drug abuse and healthcare, Macy finds reason to hope and ample signs of the spirit and tenacity that are helping the countless ordinary people ensnared by addiction build a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.
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