Dopesick is an eight-part miniseries based upon Journalist Beth Macy’s book by the same name. The series chronicles the opioid epidemic in rural Appalachia, from the release of oxycontin by Purdue Pharma in the late 1990s to today.
The series has a large cast of characters from every facet of the epidemic: the Sackler family, the pharmaceutical representatives, the families affected, the FDA and DEA, and finally, the prosecutors that brought the Purdue and the Sackler family to court.
The main storyline is that of the people the drug affected the most, Dr Finnix (Michael Keaton) and the patients he served. Swayed by a charismatic pharmaceutical sales rep (Will Poulter), Finnix begins prescribing the new wonder drug, oxycontin, which is purportedly not addictive like other opioids. Dr Finnix has no reason not to trust the rep as the FDA certified the drug was not addictive. You know, even though the claim was unverified by scientific studies. The ‘less addictive’ label was utterly false, and oxycontin became more addictive than other opioids. When patients attempt to wean themselves from oxy, the withdrawal symptoms are extreme, described as ‘dopesick.’
Driven by greed, the Sackler family uses the lack of government oversight to their benefit, making millions, and soon, billions of dollars off of the sales of oxy. DEA Agent Bridget Meyer (Rosario Dawson) investigates the growing drug issues and uncovers the truth but is discouraged by the FDA’S lack of concern regarding the drug. US Attorneys Rick Mountcastle (Peter Sarsgaard) and Randy Ramseyer (John Hoogenakker) begin building a case against the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma for false advertising regarding oxycontin. They discover so much more. They equally are discouraged that no one seems to care that the drug is addictive and that people are dying. It ultimately culminates in a settlement. All of the story strands come together gradually, but everything is still not resolved.
The acting was excellent throughout. Keaton had the most screen time, and I was not mad about it. He was terrific, completely charismatic. He played the humble country doctor, trying to do right by his patients, to a drug addict, destroying everyone and everything in his life.
While I did love this series, it was tough to follow at times. It rapidly jumps through time at random moments. There were also unnecessary Storylines. Dawson was a large part of the series, but the series weirdly focused on her character’s personal life, something I did not find at all interesting, and which could have been cut out of the series altogether.
The USA is basically the wild, wild west regarding prescription drugs. They’re advertised endlessly on television and on all social media websites. This miniseries highlights why this is so problematic and needs to be changed. I knew it was terrible, but not colluding with an FDA official to place something scientifically unproven on a label was awful. The series will probably seem utterly unrealistic for people outside of the USA. The series made me sick to my stomach and made me pretty angry. It’s pretty messed up that the opioid crisis was kind of caused by the government and it pretty much sheds some light on the reasons people don’t necessarily trust the FDA or pharmaceutical companies. Before the premiere of this series, the show creator was threatened, as was Beth Macy, after her book was published, and there was a push to have the series shelved. Luckily, Disney aired the show on Hulu because the story needs to be told.
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I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.