Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
Dopesick – Hulu Original
Dopesick is based on true events that happened surrounding the origins of the opioid crisis and how it created spikes in crimes and overdose deaths across the country.
Purdue Pharmaceuticals was the manufacturer of MS Contin, a strong pain reliever used in the 80’s used to treat severe pain. During this time, the medical industry was not focused on any type of pharmaceutical innovations for those experiencing moderate long term pain, generally prescribing Tylenol and Motrin for these conditions. Richard Sackler (Michael Stuhlbarg) was the head of family-owned Purdue Pharma and decided to commit the entire company’s fortune on developing a moderate pain reliever that could be sold long term.
The company was successful in creating an opiate that was time released, claiming that would diminish the euphoric effects and a claimed 1% addiction rate, so garnered special labeling by the FDA as being non-addictive. By the mid 90’s, Purdue had developed and began distributing OxyContin with an aggressive marketing campaign targeted mainly in rural communities where things like mining injuries were common. Dr. Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton) worked in a small coal mining town called Finch Creek where many of his patients had received work injuries in the mines that often resulted in long term moderate pain, so was the perfect target for Billy Cutler (Will Poulter) who was a member of the huge sales force hired by Purdue.
Purdue salesmen were trained to focus on OxyCotin’s special labeling by the FDA, being the only Schedule 2 narcotic to claim to not be a non-addictive opiate. They bought flowers and offered manicures to receptionists to gain access to doctors who they gave free samples and offered free getaway weekends in Arizona to listen to pain relief experts about industry innovations, specifically the redirect to focus on pharmaceutical solutions of long term moderate pain under the guise of thinking it was not OK to let people live with pain.
Dr. Finnix seemed to care greatly for his patients, some of whom he even brought into the world, and as a small town doctor often made house calls and responded whenever needed. He agreed to try OxyContin with some of his patients, and all had significant pain relief and results. One was a young woman named Betsy Mallum (Kaitlyn Dever) who recently injured her back on a mine car, the other a man who had shoulder issues for more than six years. Unknown to Dr. Finnix, Betsy was experiencing withdrawal symptoms even though the drug was said to be non-addictive.
Bridget Meyer (Rosario Dawson) was working for the DEA, and began to notice increases in burglaries, thefts, prostitution and child abandonment, and was able to correlate the facts and timeline to being directly caused by OxyContin. Around the same time two federal investigators, Rick Mountcastle (Peter Sarsgaard) and Randy Ramseyer (John Hoogenakker) were looking into Purdue’s special authorization from the FDA and some verifiable statistics that a large number of people were overdosing on OxyContin, as well as seeing it’s effects on increasing crimes across the board in areas where it was heavily distributed.
The first three episodes premiered on the same night, giving viewers a basic sense of the overall situation as it progressed from the mid 1980’s to mid 2000’s. Airs Tuesday nights 9pm on Hulu.
Rated: TV-MA for Some Violence, Drug Misuse, and Language Throughout.
Runtime: 8 – 1hr Episodes