The narcotic known as oxycodone hydrochloride or “OxyContin” by its trade name, is an analgesic sold in the United States and, under medical prescription, is used to relieve severe pain due to neuralgia, arthritis or cancer.
Shortly after its creation, it lost its main objective; Because addicted people began to consume it because of its effects similar to those of heroin. The euphoria it caused them was what kept them in constant consumption and abuse.
Based on this precept, the new series of the on-demand content platform Netflixtitled painkillertalks about the creation of this opioid that, a few years ago, caused a major public health crisis, allegedly at the hands of the Sackler family.
The production is based on real events and is inspired by the books: The Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Dynasty That Reigned in the Pharmaceutical Industry, by Patrick Radden Keefe; and Pain Killer: Painkiller: An Empire of Deception and the Origins of the pandemic opioids from the USA, by Barry Meier.
In the plot, Richard Sackler (Matthew Broderick) is the heir of Arthur Sackler (played by Clark Gregg), who runs the pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, the same one that was dedicated to the study, research and marketing of “OxyContin.”
As the series progresses, we realize how the drug begins to become embedded in society as an evil that is increasingly difficult to eradicate. As if it were a novelty candy, part of the citizenry begins to consume this narcotic at an alarming rate.
Peter Berg’s limited series shows the unethical methods that led to its heightened sales in the US, until Purdue Pharma agrees to plead guilty for $8.3 billion. That would cost him countless trials to avoid more penalties, even though he had opted for bankruptcy.
The origin of the Sackler fortune was always in doubt, as they were the most renowned benefactors of the arts and sciences in New York; They would later learn that their fortune multiplied due to the opioid crisis in the United States.
Some time later, in 2021, a New York court would forgive fines of up to $4.5 billion; but it would be this year, in 2023, when payments would increase to $6 billion. An unprecedented crisis that ended up supposedly sinking the Sackler family, the series reveals.
It is worth mentioning that the owner of the company Arthur Sackler died in 1987; while the heir Richard lives in Florida and maintains a very discreet and isolated profile from his former businesses.
Contrary to what people might think, the Sackler family is still billionaires; The “Oxycontin” problem was just that, a minor problem that wore out some public relations. According to the newspaper The New York Timeshis fortune is valued at more than $11 billion.
What is “OxyContin” and how does it affect you?
The National Drug Intelligence Center of the US Department of Justice notes that “OxyContin” is sold in tablets of 10, 20, 40 or 80 milligrams. And the most alarming thing is that “about 1 million US residents aged 12 years or older used ‘OxyContin’ for non-medical purposes at least once in their lives,” according to data from the National Household Survey on the Drug Abuse.
The Center also assured that people who are exposed to this drug develop tolerance to it, “which means that increasingly higher doses must be administered to achieve the same effects.”
Abuse of oxycodone hydrochloride can lead to physical dependence and addiction. People who become dependent or addicted to the drug “experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it,” the Department of Justice revealed.
Under current laws, abuse of “OxyContin” is illegal; since it is a substance that appears in Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, among which cocaine and methamphetamine also stand out.