10 essential documentaries on the opioid crisis

And now physicians are terrified to prescribe opioids due to what Hurwitz characterizes as a haphazard and desperate response to a much more complicated problem. Far the addiction crisis has spilled onto the fabric of American society.

  • Dr. Lynn Webster, whom Gibney talks about in the interview, responds to NPR that he or his colleagues have treated thousands of patients over more than 30 years.
  • Webster was a speaker for the pharmaceutical companies who received monetary compensation.
  • Coming in just shy of 90 minutes, Dr. Feelgood is a rich portrayal of William Eliot Hurwitz.
  • A third wave followed in 2013 with the sharp jump in overdose deaths connected to synthetic opioids, especially fentanyl, according to the CDC.
  • Depending on whom you ask, Hurwitz is either a caring and innovative physician who, over the course of his decades-long career, helped the chronic pain of hundreds of patients countrywide.

And so they were shocked and surprised when the Department of Justice itself, after pressure from representatives of Purdue, notably, former U.S. DOJ officials like Mary Jo White and Rudy Giuliani, decided not to prosecute the executives and to work out a deal that essentially held Purdue criminally responsible. But most importantly, the key https://en.forexpamm.info/ evidence in the prosecution memo was never revealed. We contend in the film that hundreds of thousands of lives were lost as a result of that burying of evidence. This deal doesn’t “raise the same red flags, but it doesn’t mean that it gets waved through,” said Leemore Dafny, former deputy director of healthcare and antitrust at the FTC.

These days, the far-reaching devastation of the epidemic is well-known. The Pharmacist presents an early look at what would become a national health crisis, as the use of OxyContin rose in popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Dr. Lynn Webster, whom Gibney talks about in the interview, responds to NPR that he or his colleagues have treated thousands of patients over more than 30 years. “Tragically, some patients died not because of treatment, but in spite of it.” Webster says millions suffer from chronic pain, which is its own crisis. “For a subset of the chronic pain population, opioids can be effective without incidence of abuse or overdose. Moreover, opioids represent their only hope where no other options exist.”

I mean, I think that there is now some reticence to prescribe opioids as liberally as doctors had done back in, say, the late ’90s, early 2000s. This 2017 STAT documentary, directed by Alex Hogan and Matthew Orr, explores the heroin crisis in the suburbs of Boston through Hogan’s group of childhood friends. When Rader is sworn in as chief of the department it’s hard not to feel emotional. And it’s hard not to let those emotions bubble up at the denouement of the film, when Rader’s final interview is interrupted by an overdose report.

Insys Executives Are Sentenced to Prison Time, Putting Opioid Makers On Notice

These facts present the symptoms of an epidemic that has been chronicled in the news with much discussion about the problem but very little regarding a solution. We do not accept funding from advertising, underwriting or government agencies. We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work. But I think the larger thing here goes to a failure of accountability. You know, Purdue was investigated by the federal government back in 2006, and indeed found guilty. But that investigation, which was a very robust investigation, really laid out the roadmap for how Purdue did what it did.

He decided to face down this national health crisis by creating an addiction program inside the county jail that is succeeding where the federal government is failing. MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff investigates the role synthetics have played in the deadliest drug crisis in American history in this roughly 45-minute documentary, aired in 2017. One Nation, Overdosed profiles the rise of fentanyl, a potent synthetic heroin analog, in Dayton, Ohio, briefly touching on each of the major events that led to a recent rash of overdoses in the midwestern state. A significant rise in heroin overdose deaths marked the second wave in 2010. Schneider started cautioning customers, who often did not show signs of chronic illness or pain, that the drugs they were prescribed might be too strong for their ailments.


And so, fentanyl began to be imported, first from China, sometimes just by mail. There would be websites in China that would say, “Hey, America, you want some fentanyl? And we look at a task force, in the film, that’s trying to stanch that.

opiod documentaries

Perhaps the most painful part of Recovery Boys is seeing the lack of effective care for recovering drug users. Jacob’s Ladder is an outlier, opened by doctor Kevin Blankenship in response to the lack of rehab options in West Virginia and his own son’s opioid addiction. Whatever the truth, Marson’s documentary highlights the vacuum of effective chronic pain management in the United States — a vacuum that can leave scores of patients in agonizing pain without a treatment for a problem they can often neither see nor prove to their doctors. Coming in just shy of 90 minutes, Dr. Feelgood is a rich portrayal of William Eliot Hurwitz. Depending on whom you ask, Hurwitz is either a caring and innovative physician who, over the course of his decades-long career, helped the chronic pain of hundreds of patients countrywide. Or he’s one of the most prolific drug distributors in America’s history.

Produced and written by John Grant, the roughly hour-long film traces the overlapping causes that culminated in the exponential growth of opioid addiction and deaths nationwide from the late 20th century to the present. N its latest addition to an ever-growing collection of documentaries, Netflix’s The Pharmacist, which premiered Feb. 5, presents a moving look at the ways grief can spur a person into activism. Spanning the early days of the U.S. opioid epidemic, the four-part documentary series shows how one person, after suffering a loss, finds a modicum of healing through the act of saving others. “A few months ago, we caught a doctor selling pills out of his car to an 11-year-old girl … and when we arrested him, he thanked us,” Hoogenakker’s prosecutor tells an agent at the Drug Enforcement Administration, played by Rosario Dawson. “At that moment, we knew that what we got going on in coal country is similar to San Francisco at the start of the AIDS crisis. … Our community is ground zero for a growing national catastrophe.” You know, “OK, have some OxyContin, it’ll be fine. And don’t worry, you won’t get addicted.”

It’s not just a crisis destroying communities and plunging countless people into addiction, but is also a crime, says documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney. To shed light on this manufactured drug epidemic, Zinnia Health compiled a list of 10 documentary films and docuseries that explore the opioid epidemic. We turn now to a stunning two-part documentary, directed by Alex Gibney, about Big Pharma’s role in driving the opioid crisis. Central to the series is Dan Schneider, a pharmacist living in St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana, a community located southeast of New Orleans, who becomes an unlikely hero. The beginning of the series focuses on the devastating death of Schneider’s son, Danny Jr., who was fatally shot at the age of 22 while trying to buy crack in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward in April 1999.

After they’re hooked, they move onto heroin because they can’t get access — or afford — pills anymore. Jan Rader, deputy chief of the Huntington Fire Department, fights for funds to buy naloxone, an opioid antagonist that helps overdose victims start breathing again. Briskly maternal treating bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse Necia Freeman is a local realtor who moonlights as founder of the Brown Bag Ministry, giving free food and advice to prostitutes on the streets of Huntington. Judge Patricia Keller of the Cabell County Drug Court wields her gavel to keep recovering addicts on the path to sobriety.

Dr. Feelgood

But eventually, Finnix winds up in front of a grand jury, ashen and shell-shocked. When a prosecutor asks how his patients reacted to the drug OxyContin, he offers a chilling reply. In Hulu’s Dopesick, Michael Keaton plays Sam Finnix as the kind of family doctor anyone would want taking care of them. It has been a landmark year for the opioid crisis, both in court decisions impacting former executives of Insys Therapeutics — investigated in the 2020 documentary ‘Opioids, Inc.’ with the Financial Times — and in the toll on human lives. This powerful glimpse of the U.S. opioid crisis earned an Oscar nod and won an Emmy for Outstanding Short Documentary. But we do know that a number of senior prosecutors in the Department of Justice found this 120-page prosecution memo extremely convincing.

opiod documentaries

But I think that what’s disconcerting is that people died of overdoses at Webster’s clinic. And so many people were dying that it caused the medical examiner to look into it and ultimately caused the DEA raid on the place. It’s a crime, he says, that was committed by pharmaceutical companies, distributors, pharmacists and doctors, all looking to profit. Netflix original, is one of the few that doesn’t dramatize or wallow in the cyclic tragedy of ecstatic heroin highs, the scratching withdrawal pangs. Instead, it honestly follows four young men struggling to recover from opioid addiction over a year and a half at Jacob’s Ladder, a farming-based recovery center in Aurora, West Virginia.

The role of physicians in perpetuating the opioid crisis is inarguable — FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has lambasted them as “cavalier” — but Hurwitz refuses to be a scapegoat. What law enforcement termed sober living house a “pill mill,” he calls simply having 500 patients in 39 states. Accused of knowing his patients were selling the overflow from his monumental prescriptions to addicts, Hurwitz says he’s just too trusting.

As Drugmakers Face Opioid Lawsuits, Some Ask: Why Not Criminal Charges Too?

Ultimately, Purdue used its muscle to go above those attorneys and have the charges knocked way back to misdemeanors and a fine. And most importantly — and this gets to the current episode — they were able to seal all the records relating to the prosecution. So the most important evidence was buried, which meant that all of us, the public, couldn’t see what had really happened, in order to be able to stop it. The story of a grieving father avenging his son’s murder would typically end with Hall’s arrest and conviction. Schneider’s own investigative work was essential to solving the case and provided some closure, if not an end to his grief.

Warning: This Drug May Kill You

Opioid epidemic is the deadliest public health crisis America has ever faced. Opioids are now responsible for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. So I think you have to see the 90,000 dead in the past year as a kind of legacy of this enormous demand that was created initially by the pharmaceutical firms. And, of course, you have companies like Insys, who are also overprescribing a drug like fentanyl, you know, as a technical matter. Now, Insys is one of the very few companies that was successfully prosecuted and a number of their executives sent to jail.

‘7 Days: The Opioid Crisis in Arkansas’

Every year, we lose more people to opioid addiction deaths than were killed in the entire Vietnam War. As his character explains, OxyContin has a protective coating that time-releases the drug, allowing the company to claim that less than 1% of patients would become addicted to the opioid. Robert Gentry, a small-town sheriff in Sevier County, Arkansas, has witnessed too many families in his community shattered by opioid addiction, overdoses and death.

This four-part miniseries premiered on Netflix and was directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason. Filmmaker Alex Gibney believes the opioid epidemic is an actual crime committed by physicians, pharmaceutical companies and reps, distributors, and pharmacists. “The Crime of the Century” is an HBO documentary that reveals the role Purdue Pharma and other major manufacturers and distributors played. Almost every year, more people die of opioid overdoses than in the year before. More than a half-million people have died from prescription painkillers, heroin and illicit fentanyl since 1999. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 66,000 people died of an opioid overdose in the U.S. in the 12 months to September 2020, a huge jump from the previous 12 months.

Creating opportunities to help effect change in what for many has been a hopeless cycle for generations. I mean, it’s just a — you know, you see in Alec Burlakoff exactly the argument for Medicare for All, because you have these terrible incentives, where the incentive is not to cure the patient. And I can’t recall there was anything in the Hippocratic Oath that had anything to do with supply and demand, but by the time you get to Insys, you know, riffing on the Purdue formula, it’s all about the money. Dan’s investigation into a corrupt doctor reveals some of big pharma’s worst sins. Dopesick also offers an authentic portrayal of the small, working class, predominantly white communities ravaged by the opioid crisis. Lots of TV shows and films have been set in such towns recently, including Netflix’s Maid and Hillbilly Elegy, HBO’s Mare of Easttown and Showtime’s American Rust.

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