Dopesick: A Gripping Tale of Oxycontin’s Dark History and Big Pharma’s Manipulation

Dopesick: A Gripping Tale of Oxycontin’s Dark History and Big Pharma’s Manipulation

The new limited Hulu series, Dopesick, transports us to 1986, when Oxycontin was a new drug hailed as a miracle that could transform lives by providing revolutionary pain relief. At least that’s how Big Pharma packaged and advertised the medication to local physicians. Dopesick has many moving parts, so if you don’t watch closely, you’ll end up missing some crucial elements. But what truly captivates us in this series is its setting in a small Appalachian town, where most residents are laborious workers or coal miners – the perfect place to experiment with a drug like Oxycontin. Dr. Finnix, a trusted physician in the town, is overwhelmed with the myriad of local miners who need him to treat their severe injuries and pain issues. Finnix is a caring doctor, wholly invested in his patients’ emotional and physical well-being. Perhaps that’s why he gets entangled in the lies of a Purdue Pharma rep who convinces him to treat his patients with Oxycontin. The rep promises him that this drug is significantly more effective than morphine or traditional opioid options while having a 1% addiction rate. However, before Dr. Finnix started prescribing Oxy to his patients, he used it to treat his wife’s pain while she was in the final stages of cancer, providing her much comfort during her last days. After witnessing Oxycontin’s effectiveness in managing his patients’ pain, Dr. Finnix becomes comfortable prescribing it to several of his patients, including minors.

Pharma Is A Big Business

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this series, it’s that pharmaceutical companies aren’t motivated by actually helping or curing people – they’re motivated by money. They’re willing to do just about anything to bring in the bucks. To get the FDA’s approval for Oxycontin, the company must show that it’s effective in real-life patients. They manage to convince several local physicians to prescribe the experimental drug to their patients by using one of the most reputable doctors in pain management in their marketing video. In the video, the doctor attests to how much the drug has benefited his patients. This is manipulation at its finest! The company’s sales force will do anything to increase their profit margins, even hosting a competition to see how much of the drug they can sell and promising an all-expense-paid trip to Bermuda.

Betsy Mallun

We meet Betsy Mallun early on in the first episode. She is a closeted lesbian and coal miner who dreams of leaving her small town to be free to truly be herself. That all changes when she hurts her back, and Dr. Finnix prescribes her Oxycontin to manage her pain. Although she isn’t strung out and addicted in the first episode, we’re going to eventually see how this drug diminishes her life. Unfortunately, her precious relationship and dreams will become casualties of her drug dependence. In the beginning, Oxycontin is effective at treating Betsy’s pain. However, she eventually starts waking up during the night in pain.

Purdue Pharma Investigation

As previously mentioned, the show has several moving parts and often jumps between 1996 and 2005 when Big Pharma is under investigation for criminally withholding information about the drug. Dr. Finnix is one of the physicians being interviewed in the investigation, and he admits that Oxycontin was the cause of hundreds of deaths in his town. Finnix reveals that so many of his patients have died from the drug that he eventually lost count. Finnix is one of the main physicians to participate in this investigation and eventually testify in court because he was one of the doctors who helped the company secure FDA approval. He strongly advocated for the drug in the beginning, but he wasn’t made aware of its side effects and potency. At one point in the show, Finnix informs the Pharma rep that the drug hasn’t been lasting 12 hours as advertised for one of his patients, and the rep tells him to increase the dosage. Dr. Finnix immediately says no and doesn’t believe that it will be safe, but the rep assures him that it is, and so Finnix takes his advice.

FDA Approves Oxycontin

Perhaps the most shocking revelation in Dopesick is that the FDA goes on to approve Oxycontin and doesn’t reveal the true potency of the drug. The FDA associate who signed off on the deceptive labeling even goes on to work for the creator of the drug, showing that there was always a conflict of interest.

Start a Discussion

Main Heading Goes Here
Sub Heading Goes Here
No, thank you. I do not want.
100% secure your website.