Check your blood strain as you watch Dopesick, a strong and at occasions forbiddingly sprawling eight-part docudrama concerning the opioid disaster of dependancy and loss of life — fueled by the introduction within the mid-Nineteen Nineties of OxyContin. The sequence explores the devastating influence of the drug from private, authorized, and company angles as OxyContin is aggressively and falsely marketed as non-addictive by Purdue Pharma on the urging of its rich homeowners, the Sacklers.
Launching with three episodes (created and written by Danny Strong and directed by Rain Man’s Barry Levinson amongst others), Dopesick is just not a simple present to observe — and never simply due to the visceral feelings it evokes. Each episode bounces backwards and forwards in time, sometimes dizzyingly, to depict the preliminary promise of the “miracle” drug, focused at first to rural working-class communities the place ache comes with the territory, and flashing ahead to the investigation and prosecution of those that hawked the drug with bogus scientific claims.
The solid delivers, particularly Michael Keaton as Virginia mining-town physician Samuel Finnix, who’s skeptical however swallows the Kool-Aid (and finally extra) when an earnest Purdue gross sales rep (Will Poulter) assures him that only one% of customers are prone to grow to be addicted. Finnix will finally grow to be disabused of this corrupt pitch, however not earlier than hitting all-time low—together with a affected person, Betsy (the heartbreaking Kaitlyn Dever), a feminine miner whose again damage units her on a downward spiral. (She’s additional ostracized because the homosexual offspring of a rigidly spiritual household—the good Mare Winningham and Ray McKinnon play her dad and mom — in a subplot that feels extra like a high-end Lifetime tearjerker.)
Rosario Dawson scores as a troublesome DEA agent who, like her dogged counterparts within the Justice Department (Peter Sarsgaard and John Hoogenakker as U.S. attorneys from western Virginia), retains hitting partitions of resistance from inside and with out their departments. Their adversary, the Sackler household, is effectively versed within the methods of the authorized sidestep — in the event you’ve been following the headlines, you recognize this received’t have a cheerful ending — and it is going to be a tall order connecting them to such shady advertising practices as threatening pharmacists and medical doctors who’d slightly not carry the drug. (Philippa Soo, a celebrated stage actress of Hamilton fame, could be the TV villainess of the 12 months as a very cold-blooded pharma rep.)
As Richard Sackler, the pugnacious scion who pushes OxyContin in any respect prices to assert his legacy throughout the household, Michael Stuhlbarg comes off like a company Napoleon with delusions of grandeur, salivating on the prospect of world domination if solely they’ll crack the German market. (Which is way stricter about drug labeling than the USA’s personal compromised FDA, whose “expert” joined the Purdue agency after doing his non-regulatory harm.)
By the time Purdue invents new situations (“breakthrough pain”) to justify prescribing their poison capsule, and countering critics with the fake idea of “pseudo-addiction,” arguing that signs of dependancy are literally indicators of untreated ache—calling for even greater doses of medicine — it’s possible you’ll begin feeling fairly sick your self.
Dopesick demonstrates that data, and fact, are the perfect drugs, even when justice proves elusive.
Dopesick, Limited Series Premiere, Wednesday, October 13, Hulu