Season 1, Episode 3 of Dopesick puts the spotlight on the prosecutors, Randy Ramseyer and Rick Mountcastle who are aggressively pursuing Purdue Pharma for the false statements they’ve made about their supposed “life-changing” drug Oxycontin. The drug is tearing the city apart as crack did in the seventies and eighties. More patients are coming forth about their bouts with the pain medication and how it nearly ruined their lives. Things are becoming more and more complicated for Finnix when it comes to treating Betsy his patient. Here’s a brief breakdown of Episode 3:
Purdue Pharma Expansion
Despite its effects negative effects on patients, Oxycontin is doing extremely well when it comes to sales. Richard is determined to expand the pain medication beyond the United States and he pushes his team to get the medication approved in Germany. However, Germany’s laws on controlled substances greatly differ from the U.S laws and they won’t be able to buy off government officials to approve the medication like they were able to do in the U.S. Also, the cultural differences between the Germans and Americans are another reason why his team believes that this expansion plan won’t work. But Richard is adamant about bringing the drug to Germany and he won’t take no for an answer.
Criminal Case On Purdue Pharma
Mountcastle and Ramseyer believe that they have enough evidence to make a criminal case on Purdue Pharma and move forward with trying to subpoena their research and marketing documents but the judge turns them down. The judge believes that the claims they are making are too broad so they’ll have to come harder. The prosecutors aren’t going to give up. They start to dig deeper into Purdue Pharma and their network of pain relief organizations and support groups. They discover that several of the companies that push the pain medication to patients are owned by Purdue Pharma under a cover LLC which is a conflict of interest and downright illegal. Fortunately, this is substantial evidence and when they come before the judge again they are granted access to further build their case.
In the previous episode, Ramseyer was diagnosed with cancer. While working on the Purdue Pharma case he has to undergo serious surgery but during recovery, he refuses to take any opioids. The doctors try to force Oxycontin on him claiming that if they fail to properly manage his pain they could potentially be held liable. These measures are all part of Purdue Pharma’s agenda to push Oxycontin into the hospitals and the doctor offices.
Besty Gives Up Oxycontin
Now that she has a tolerance to the drug, Betsy realizes that it’s taking more and more of the medication to mask her back pain. She tells Dr. Finnix that her pain is getting better and that she’s ready to get off the medication and he advises her to slowly taper. The drug is slowly but surely tearing her down so she makes a rash decision to stop taking her medication and throws the tablets in the garbage. However, Betsy isn’t prepared for the excruciating withdrawal symptoms that she experiences and becomes desperate to ease her pain. Betsy’s pain goes beyond the physical. She’s also carrying the pain of not being able to be her true self since she can’t tell her religious parents that she’s a lesbian. Desperate for relief, Betsy purposely causes a bad accident that leaves one of her co-workers injured and several legal issues for the company she works at. Fortunately, she survives the accident but she’ll likely be given another prescription and fall further down the rabbit hole of addiction.
A Difficult Choice
Finnix travels to Washington D.C to visit his wife’s sister. While away, he receives a call from his assistant informing him of Betsy’s accident. Finnix decides to head back home to check up on Betsy in the hospital but he gets in a bad accident on the road. Finnix ends up in the hospital with four broken ribs. The doctor recommends a high dose of Oxycontin to manage his pain but Finnix doesn’t know whether he should take the pain medication or not. Finnix is surprised that the doctor at the hospital wants to start him off with such a high dose. Unlike most physicians, Finnix knows that’s it’s in the best interest to start a patient off with a low dose of pain medication and then increase if necessary. For Finnix, taking the pill is a moral dilemma and to take the medication would feel like he’s bought into Purdue Pharma’s false narrative.
What’s really interesting about this series is that several of the people that are against Oxycontin and that are fighting to expose the crooked pharmaceutical behind the drug at some point they experience complex health issues and they have to decide whether to take medication to ease their legitimate pain or to hold strong to their morals.