For a few seconds the archive images are mixed with fiction at the start of the last episode of Dopesick: story of an addiction (Disney +), the highly recommended eight-chapter miniseries that reconstructs the opioid epidemic in the United States and the tenacious investigation of the prosecutor who took the first step against Purdue Pharma and its owners, the powerful Sackler family. Prescribed right and left in consultations across the country, their OxyContin pills caused hell that in the last two decades has killed half a million people in their country, in addition to leaving a trail of crime and desperate addiction that endures: in 2019 more than 10 million Americans were overmedicated with opiates and more than 1.5 million were already addicted.
What emerges from those fleeting documentary images of the final chapter is the profile of the photographer Nan Goldin in one of the great museums that have benefited from the Sackler money and among which include the Louvre, the Metropolitan in New York, the Serpentine Gallery in London or the Guggenheim. It was precisely in the famous central atrium of the New York Guggenheim that Goldin – who has been leading the campaign for years to unmask the Sackler’s philanthropy and, incidentally, opening a debate about the great fortunes and their patronage – launched into the air along with others activists thousands of leaflets that, in the form of medical prescription, denounced the complicity of these museums with a family as criminal as it is sensitive to the fine arts.
Based on the book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America, from journalist Beth Macy, Dopesick It occurs much earlier, specifically in the mid-1990s, when OxyContin came on the market with a sneaky commercial campaign and, what is more serious, with the approval of the State Agency for the Regulation of Food and Medicines (FDA, for its acronym in English). The series is directed in its first chapters by Barry Levinson and has Michael Keaton as executive producer and lead actor. One of the most notable aspects of this dramatic fiction is its didactic work, resolved with a simple and clear narrative that, yes, abuses those cheap curtains with dates that allow continuous chronological jumps between decades. Dopesick It exposes with rhythm and solidity what the devilish pyramid of the so-called opioid crisis consisted of and how the Sackler family made billions thanks to the addiction of its consumers by lying to everyone, including the US Congress. schematism in his map of the political corruption that favored this public health scandal, but everything else, from the fiscal and police investigation to the pain of the victims, transpires truth thanks to a series of well-written and even better-interpreted characters.
Michael Keaton, who in recent times seems embarked on a sort of National Episodes About the great American court cases, he plays a rural doctor dedicated to the care of a mining community in the Appalachian Mountains where work accidents and extremely hard life cause many chronic pain. It was ground zero to test oxycodone, the opiate that spread thanks to an aggressive propaganda machine and a network of commercials that distributed, with all kinds of tricks, the hoax that it was hardly addictive. Along with Keaton, stand out the obsessive assistant prosecutor played by Peter Sarsgaard, the feisty DEA agent in the skin of Rosario Dawson or the unfortunate addict who gives life to the wonderful and young actress Kaitlyn Dever, whose heartbreaking ordeal is nailed among the best of the series.
Dopesick focuses on one of the key episodes in the sinister Sackler saga, masterfully portrayed by American journalist Patrick Raden Keefe in The empire of pain (Reservoir Books) and whose devastating consequences were also exposed in the HBO documentary The crime of the century from Alex Gibney, who delved into the scandalous collusion between the pharmaceutical industry and political power. But maybe the audiovisual icing is on the web Sackler Gallery. In it you can see actors like Bryan Cranston, Keaton himself, Richard Kind or Michael K. Williams – the mythical Omar of The Wire, died a few months ago from a cocktail that also contained another prescription opiate, fentalum—, dressed by Richard Sackler in 2019 for the program Last Week Tonightby John Oliver. With all this material a page was opened in which through small sketches The cynical statements and emails of the president of the company during the expansion of the OxyContin are in evidence. It is worth seeing and listening to to discover the impudence and repulsive disdain of a true devil in a suit and tie.
You can follow EL PAÍS TELEVISIÓN in Twitter or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.
Sign in to continue reading
Just by having an account you can read this article, it’s free
Thanks for reading EL PAÍS
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.