I am no stranger to documentary films. I find them fascinating, educational, and I love to watch real people that give me a contextual field for actors. I love it when the doc exposes truths that aren’t common knowledge (to me) and reveal underlying facts that only experts can know. As in this doc, the world of drug dealing is largely unknown so, learning about the mentality similarities of street drug dealers and pharmaceutical companies was exciting. I felt like the purpose of the film was to inform the general public about the interworkings of the opioid business in an effort to garner up support and inspire people to help out in any ways possible. I’m not sure how inspired I felt leaving the movie, but I certainly felt angry towards these companies distributing lethal drugs freely and hope I can make a difference somehow, even though the doc didn’t share ways in which I could do that.
Directed by Brendan Fitzgerald and Nick August-Perna, this documentary about the oxycontin industry and the roles drug companies, dealers, and customers play in creating the epidemic. Drug companies have created a disaster by pushing these drugs through to people and causing them to become addicted, allowing the company to make huge profits. They have now asked the taxpayers to clean up that mess for them, knowing full well the mess is almost permanent. “It’s like this big corporation dumps a toxic sludge into your drinking water and says they are happy because they saved money by not having to clean up that mess, but then turning around and telling you, with the toxic water, to clean up your own water with your own resources while they walk away from the mess they created”.
Bouncing between a retired king pin, current drug dealers, “customers” and attorneys handling a massive case against McKessin drug distributors, the story of how to sell oxycontin at the start of the opined epidemic makes you feel like you’re a successful king pin. That all quickly comes to haunt when the overtone of seriousness and tragedy put a damper on any moments of fun and joy the fantasy life as a dealer, or addict, might momentarily portray. The footage of the disguised “salesmen” offer up information that feels exclusive and dangerous giving it a thrilling dose of danger. The life described by the dealers is something out of a movie, partying with strippers, buying boats and mansions, and buying anything they desired.. until it wasn’t.
Through the misregulation of the oxytocins, we learn that obtaining Oxy is easier than it should be, causing the illegal distribution of the drug to be incredibly easy. The drug companies counted on drug dealers getting their hands on the Oxytocin to help them make billions of dollars per year. The more people are addicted, the more street dealers need to buy from pharmacies, the more money the big pharmaceutical companies make. The surplus of “the drug distribution can only work if it was part of the business plan of the companies.”
The message, I think, is that everyone distributing drugs on the streets are called drug dealers and get caught and go to prison. But, the companies that distribute the drugs aren’t held accountable and when the kingpins are asked for information about who they obtained drugs from and they say “McKessin” or companies of the like, the DEA seems uninterested. Why are these pharmaceutical companies allowed to kill people with their products while other drug dealers are given life sentences?
It started out feeling balanced, but towards the middle point it started feeling like a free PSA for the lawyers and their case against the drug companies. It almost felt like the attorney’s office paid for the making of this movie for their own agenda, not to inform the audience.
The ending is a bit abrupt with a rushed wrap up leaving the audience in the dark about where the narrative will go and how to help and contribute to stopping the epidemic. I think with some editing changes, this doc could easily be picked up by Hulu or or with some more info and edits Netflix might take a gander.