The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention breaks the opioid epidemic into three waves. The first wave began with the launch of OxyContin — Purdue Pharma’s highly addictive pain reliever launched in 1996 — and an increase in opioid prescriptions. Skyrocketing rates of opioid addiction quickly followed.
A significant increase in heroin overdose deaths marked the second wave in 2010. A third wave followed in 2013 with a sharp increase in overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl, according to the CDC. From 1999 to 2019, nearly 500,000 people died from an opioid overdose.
Hulu’s 2021 drama miniseries “Dopesick” focused on Purdue Pharma urging sales reps to convince doctors that OxyContin is not addictive despite knowledge to the contrary. The Food and Drug Administration supported Purdue, setting the stage for a drug epidemic that gripped the nation. A judge in 2021 approved a deal to disband Purdue as a company; The Sackler family, which runs the company, agreed to pay $4.5 billion in a bankruptcy settlement. Many who have struggled with opioid addiction or who have lost a loved one to OxyContin addiction have expressed objection to the fact that the Sacklers are likely to remain one of the wealthiest families in the United States.
To shed light on this manufactured drug epidemic, Zinnia Health has compiled a list of 10 documentaries and documentaries that tackle the opioid epidemic.