HBO pharma doc ‘The Crime of the Century’ earns its title

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For greater than 20 years, People have watched the human value of the opioid disaster as if it have been an epidemic with no trigger. However what if the disaster had been manufactured by means of a sequence of cynical misdeeds involving profit-ravenous pharmaceutical corporations, bought-and-paid-for medical professionals and a toothless political and authorized system?

You most likely wouldn’t be shocked, given all that we now know from quite a few class-action lawsuits, interviews with recovering addicts and grieving mother and father, arduous information exposés and sure, a number of documentaries. However Alex Gibney’s gripping two-part docuseries “The Crime of the Century” sheds new gentle on an ongoing catastrophe by meticulously monitoring the strikes of 1 main kingpin: Purdue Pharma, the drug firm that made billions off the addictive and infrequently deadly ache treatment OxyContin.

Described by HBO as a “searing indictment of Huge Pharma and the political operatives and authorities rules that allow overproduction, reckless distribution and abuse of artificial opiates,” the four-hour investigation delivers on that promise by mixing commentary about America’s damaged healthcare system with the justice-seeking tenor of true crime.

“The Crime of the Century” chronicles the historical past of ache remedy within the U.S. and the way it’s been redefined over the many years, largely by the advertising efforts of the Sackler household, who based and personal Purdue. Specifically, “Empire of Ache” creator Patrick Radden Keefe, “Ache Killer” author Barry Meier and an investigative staff from the Washington Put up add context to Gibney’s story of how Purdue brilliantly marketed OxyContin to maintain its deadly potential a secret.

Materials from Purdue seen within the sequence reveals the shift from ache as an disagreeable facet impact to an ailment unto itself: “What’s ache? … Ache is regardless of the particular person experiencing the ache says it’s,” advises a nice voice in an educational video. It needs to be handled just like the fifth very important signal, and never a symptom, clinicians have been informed in programs. This new, corporate-backed method to ache administration coincided with the appearance within the mid-Nineties of OxyContin, which the corporate claimed was a secure different to addictive opioids of the previous.

Two paramedics in the back of an ambulance, adjacent to an empty stretcher, with another ambulance parked alongside.

A picture from Alex Gibney’s documentary “The Crime of the Century.”


Others interviewed right here embody a former Purdue Pharma gross sales consultant who labored in rural areas, together with the Appalachian mountain area that’s been ravaged by the opioid disaster. His pitch included telling medical doctors there was “no dose too excessive and that sufferers can’t get addicted. They took all that worry of opioids away, then turned ’em unfastened,” he says.

Purdue and its formidable staff of medical doctors and attorneys, Rudy Giuliani included, defended towards the a whole lot of hundreds of overdoses and deaths associated to OxyContin by claiming there have been two sorts of customers: sufferers who adopted medical doctors’ orders and drug abusers.

“The Crime of the Century” makes clear that’s not the case. A person whose spouse died of an overdose whereas underneath the care of a high-profile ache administration physician who was not directly funded by Purdue speaks about how the couple adopted regardless of the physician advisable. However in his grief he stored the record of medicine the ache physician had her on. When one other medical skilled reels off the names of every drug and the excessive dosages for the digicam, he’s stumped after which horrified.

By firsthand accounts, outdated experiences and new leaks, “The Crime of the Century” reveals how Huge Pharma conspired towards the American individuals to make a buck, in blue and pink states alike. When Purdue was sued over OxyContin deaths in 2008, for example, prosecutors characterised the ensuing $700 million high quality as a parking ticket for the Sackler household, who’re price over $10 billion. And even then Purdue sought alternate methods to proceed the heist (see: fentanyl).

The prolific Gibney, who additionally directed the COVID-response exposé “Completely Beneath Management,” “Going Clear: Scientology and the Jail of Perception” and “Enron: The Smartest Guys within the Room,” has a manner of taking part in with phrases within the titles of his movies, however not right here. For the magnitude of the human and societal destruction depicted right here, “the crime of the century” is the one title that matches.

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