The team behind the hard-hitting Disney + drama Dopesick described it as a warning to the world about the danger of opioids, after a major pharmaceutical company deceptively marketed a strong pain reliever as less addictive than other opioid pain relievers.
The inspiring series, which debuts on Star on Disney + this month, follows the launch and subsequent investigation of OxyContin from several different angles, including a small mining town and the boardrooms of Purdue Pharma.
The drug was aggressively sold to doctors claiming that less than one percent of patients would become addicted, but that turned out to be a complete lie and the effect was devastating for the United States.
In an interview with RadioTimes.com, Dopesick showrunner Danny Strong explained what he set out to achieve by making this dramatization of the shocking scandal.
âTo educate people around the world and warn them about the dangers of OxyContin and the deceptive marketing practices of Purdue Pharma,â he began. âThey pathologically marketed the drug as non-addictive when in fact it is highly addictive.
“AAnd these marketing techniquesâ¦ they have spread all over the world. So I thought the show might be a warning to different countries that if someone comes to sell you an opioid and says it’s not addicting, they’re liars.
Dopesick star Will Poulter echoed the importance of education on this issue because “it is possible that this will happen anywhere else in the world,” while adding that he hopes this series will help change attitudes towards those most affected.
âThe universal theme of addiction and the fact that addiction is a disease is something that I think we need to improve our general awareness and also increase our empathy for,â he said. RadioTimes.com.
âSomewhere along the line, and it’s certainly a narrative that Purdue fed off, we vilified the addicts in these stories. And whenever we hear about drug addiction, we think of drug addicts as the kind of abusive people in the equation.
He continued, “But actually I think something Dopesick is doing is trying to correct the narrative in that regard and point out the facts, which is that the only really abusive people in the script were Purdue, who vilified drug addicts.
“Their behavior and conduct in introducing and marketing this drug was the most abusive thing.”
Dopesick understands a heartbreaking description of the damage caused by Purdue’s actions, focusing on minor Betsy (Kaitlyn Dever), who was first prescribed OxyContin after sustaining a serious injury at work.
Dever said RadioTimes.com that she was taking the role “really, really seriously” and had consulted with a member of the Dopesick team who had personal experience with opioid addiction.
âI spoke with someone who was actually on our production and who ended up being a really, really important part of my character development,â she said.
âAnd really, they’ve been so supportive and open and kind to me and become a very, very good friend on set. They were there everyday and I could just ask them anything and they were so nice to me.
Dopesick will premiere on Star on Disney + on Friday, November 12. Check out more of our dramatic coverage or visit our TV guide to see what’s going on tonight.