Dopesick and the opioid crisis in the U.S.

“Dopesick” is a Hulu mini-series that can be seen on Disney+, the plot of which focuses on the case of Purdue Pharmaand the great opioid crisis in the U.S. caused by OxyContin the famous painkiller that forced Donald Trump to declare it a health emergency in October 2017.

Danny Strong is the creator of this series, which is inspired by the book by Beth Macy called “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America.”. It counts on Barry Levinson, Michael Cuesta and  Patricia Riggen as directors and a great cast led by Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Poulter, John Hoogenakker, Kaitlyn Dever and Rosario Dawson.

“This is a story of an amazing ruse. They took a highly addictive drug and sold it as a miraculous drug.”

Lies and addiction

Although Purdue stated OxyContin’s addiction level below 1%, it was confirmed that that was a fallacy that provoked many deaths and addicts in poor and working areas, while supposedly promising a panacea: to calm chronic pain partly caused by strenuous physical labour.

The marketing campaign consisted of targeting people on low income who could be more receptive to their persuasion techniques in areas that were likely to be more susceptible to them.

And it was precisely that, that the catastrophe would affect mainly areas that were the poorest and most vulnerable, which allowed the deception to last longer, as its damaging effects were hardly publicized in these communities… Food for thought.

Additionally and although as we said this crisis began in 1999, the great tragedy was tackled barely four or five years ago, when the size of the problem became unstoppable and it was no longer possible to hide the number of deaths and addicts.

In the year 2000, OxyContin was already famous and in 2001, after September 11, there was a joke in the corridors of Purdue Pharma where they said that at least September 11 had got them off the front pages.

That’s why the series looks in depth at the origin of this tragedy: corruption produced by influence peddling at the highest level in the United States Government, in Congress and the Justice Department of these types of companies, who put their power and economic interests before people’s health.

The different stories that Dopesick tells make your hair stand on end and show the ploys that the pharmaceutical company used to convince and gain the trust of doctors and patients, even if that meant playing with their health starting with the prescription of the alleged miraculous drug that produced disastrous effects: death or addiction.

In 2020, Purdue declared itself bankrupt and admitted responsibility for the opioid crisis, but that slowed down the payment of compensation to those affected, despite the pharmaceutical company having reached an 8,300 million dollar agreement with the State Department…

“Since the end of the 90s, over half a million people have died and two million citizens have become addicted.”

In short, we recommend you watch it, because it tells a true story that unfortunately happened recently, and also because it is a great exercise of reflection and criticism of a health system, that is clearly not working, and of a savage capitalism that annihilates the poorest, with no scruples and total impunity.

(*) Declarations by Danny Strong.