In the second chapter of Dopesick (Disney +), a consumer official gives a key figure among a storm of dizzying numbers – half a million deaths from opioid use; 300 million prescriptions written a year—: Under Reagan, the US Drug Agency reduced its workforce to just 39 employees to oversee 35,000 products.
Obsessed with deregulating, Republicans slashed their budget (and credibility) and put drugmakers at the helm. The fox guarding the chickens allowed OxyContin, an opioid more potent than morphine, to roam the country disguised as a pain reliever, with mining areas – where tolerating physical pain is the difference between putting food on the table or not – as zero zone. To achieve this, Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, a surname chiseled into walls like those of the dazzling Met room that houses the Dendur temple, relied on a network of hitmen with briefcases and scientific publications that they themselves financed.
To encompass such a branching story, Danny Strong (Empire) intertwines temporal lines, sometimes confusing but necessary. Because when the void into which the gaze of the immense Kaitlyn Dever sinks – who reminds us that the zombies that queue in front of pharmacies have been her before: good children, good couples, good workers – becomes unbearable, we need to see the future in which honest officials will tear down a cartel of unwitting camels, like the doctor played by Michael Keaton, whom no one in the days of Beetlejuice I would have imagined it as a modern James Stewart.
How could it happen, we wonder scandalized from a more rigorous and restrictive Europe, while in the background we listen to those who always feel safe mocking public bodies in pursuit of the freedom to sclerotize our arteries or get tipsy in bars. It begins so.
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