There’s A Series Coming To Netflix In August That Everyone Should Watch

Several great series are coming out in August, but one, in particular, is coming to Netflix with such an important message that everyone would benefit from watching.

Painkiller is a six-episode limited series premiering on August 10 that details the origins of the opioid crisis and unravels the OxyContin epidemic and how this deadly drug overtook America.

Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin in 1996, and its savvy marketing campaigns made the drug out to be a savior for those in pain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug, which led people to trust in its efficacy.

Purdue was aggressive in its marketing approach and even incentivized doctors to prescribe it in higher doses to their patients. As so often happens, it was about profit over human life.

Sales were $48 million in its infancy, but profits topped $1 billion by 2000. In just four years, those behind the drug became exceedingly wealthy as hundreds of thousands of lives were lost and countless families were destroyed.

Over the past 20 years, over 300,000 people have died from overdoses involving prescription painkillers, including OxyContin. More than 40 people die every day in the U.S. from opioid overdoses. This series is a cautionary tale of addiction and how anyone can fall prey to its harrowing grip.

Painkiller is a fictionalized retelling of events that highlights the stories of the perpetrators, victims, and truth-seekers who were impacted. The deadly nightmare began in the mid-1990s when OxyContin hit the market and triggered the first wave of deaths that would be directly linked to the use of a legal prescription opioid drug.

Because doctors prescribed OxyContin, it was believed to be safe. How wrong a trusting public was at the time, but as the drug makers knew, it is the human condition to run from pain towards pleasure, and this is how they got the drug into the mainstream.

In the series, Matthew Broderick portrays billionaire businessman and physician Richard Sackler, the mind behind Oxycontin. He was the chairman and president of Purdue Pharma, the company best known as the developer of the drug. Sackler has been accused of concealing the drug’s strength and hiding its risks.

The Sackler family founded and owned two pharmaceutical companies, Purdue Pharma and Mundipharma, and has faced many lawsuits and fines. In 2019, Purdue filed for bankruptcy due to lawsuits in several states. Approval of that bankruptcy was still pending as of March.

In a settlement, the Sackler family agreed to pay $6 billion and forfeit company ownership. The family maintains much of its wealth and is believed to be worth $11 billion.

How did so many people fall prey to this drug? Pain is devastating and debilitating, and if you’ve ever been at a level ten, you understand what it does to you. When I had emergency spine surgery a few years ago, I had less than two hours to mentally and physically prepare. I would’ve been paralyzed had I not had the surgery, and the pain was unbearable.

At the time, I had no idea how painful post-surgery would be. Luckily, I cannot stomach opioids, so I could not take them after leaving the hospital. Millions of others who have suffered such injuries and surgeries, like me, leave the hospital with a dozen or so prescriptions. Whereas I didn’t take the drugs prescribed, others see no other way, and the grips of addiction quickly take hold.

It isn’t just the patients who suffer from these addictions. Entire families are obliterated. In Painkiller, Taylor Kitsch portrays Glen Kryger, a man who suffers a severe back injury at work. He gets surgery and is prescribed OxyContin. He’s a husband and father who soon gets addicted. This storyline is heartbreaking to watch because Glen represents those who have lost their lives to opioids and the families of those who have died.

At its height, people were crushing and snorting OxyContin and overdosing. In August 2010, Purdue Pharma stopped selling the original formula to pharmacies after the company reformulated the pills to make them crush-resistant.

This must-watch series is especially moving because each episode opens with real-life family members who have lost a loved one in this crisis. The series examines the lies and crimes committed, those made to take accountability, and the systems that have repeatedly failed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Painkiller is based on the book “Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic” by Barry Meier and The New Yorker Magazine article ‘The Family That Built an Empire of Pain’ by Patrick Radden Keefe.

Alongside Kitsch and Broderick, Uzo Aduba, Dina Shihabi, Carolina Bartczak, and West Duchovny star in the series executive produced by Eric Newman, Peter Berg, Alex Gibney, and showrunners/creators/writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. Berg directs the series.

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