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Horrifying true story behind Netflix's shocking new series starring Matthew Broderick

Kit Roberts

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| Last updated 

Horrifying true story behind Netflix's shocking new series starring Matthew Broderick

Featured Image Credit: Netflix / YouTube/ProPublica

Netflix has recently released its new series Painkiller, and it turns out that it is based on a shocking true story.

Painkiller stars Matthew Broderick, of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Producers, and is described as a 'fictionalized retelling' of the opioid crisis in the US.

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The crisis stemmed from the overprescription of opioid drugs which commonly led to further use and misuse down the line. For example, drugs like fentanyl are so powerful that they are often only used when other painkillers have been ineffective due to the risk they pose.

Painkiller examines the events which led to the start of the opioid epidemic, specifically centred around the drug OxyContin and how addictive it could be.

Matthew Broderick stars as Richard Sackler in Painkiller. Credit: Netflix
Matthew Broderick stars as Richard Sackler in Painkiller. Credit: Netflix

Broderick takes on the role of Purdue Pharma chief Richard Sackler.

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The series is based on how the company was found to be partially responsible for the crisis after misleading the public about how addictive OxyContin, a brand name for the drug oxycodone, was.

In notes to the press, the show's producer Alex Gibney said: "The crisis wasn’t something that just happened, like a hurricane or a flood.

"It was something that was manufactured; manufactured by companies looking to make an egregious profit. I realised that this opioid crisis I’ve been hearing so much about was not just a crisis, it was really a crime."

The US opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s, when opioid drugs were used increasingly for pain management, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Painkiller is based on a shocking true story. Credit: Netflix
Painkiller is based on a shocking true story. Credit: Netflix

Subsequently there was both a rise in overall use of the drugs as well as abuse and over-prescription of the drugs.

Sackler became president of Purdue Pharma in 1991 and was a pioneer of marketing strategies which were used to persuade medical professionals into purchasing opioids.

By the time Sackler became the chairman of the company in 2003, over $1 billion worth of OxyContin had been sold.

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In 2015, Purdue Pharma paid out a settlement of $24 million to the state of Kentucky as part of a lawsuit which accused the company of misleading the public about the addictiveness of the powerful prescription drug.

In July this year, it was revealed that Purdue Pharma may be proceeding with a bankruptcy settlement. This would protect the company's owners from subsequent lawsuits.

Painkiller is available to stream on Netflix.

Topics: Film & TV, Drugs, Health, Netflix, Film and TV

Kit Roberts
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