Pain Hustlers

Pain Hustlers
Pain Hustlers
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Netflix always produces and streams movies and TV series based on true stories; as for example, Pain Hustlers. This crime drama directed by David Yates (The Legend of Tarzan) has followed big pharmaceutical companies and their mafioso adventures. The movie premiered on Netflix on October 27th and it has been ranking highly since then. This is interesting considering that film critics did not give it glowing reviews as opposed to the audience who seemed to have liked it more.

The popularity of the movie among the viewers was because of its well known cast members led by Emily Blunt (The Girl On The Train), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger). Besides Blunt and Evans, the cast for Pain Hustlers include Andy García, Catherine O’Hara, Jay Duplass, Brian d’Arcy James, Chloe Coleman. It is Evan Hughes’s book ‘Pain Hustlers: Crime & Punishment at an Opioid Startup’ that Pain Hustlers borrows from in terms of plot. Also, the movie involves a painkiller called Lonafen which has fentanyl similar characteristics with morphine. All this became important to the viewership because Fentanyl is a drug ravaging American society right now being all over media headlines.

Opioid crisis has plagued USA for more than two decades claiming uncountable lives in its wake. Fentanyl-based opioids are filling streets and each day new victims are struck down by them.. And all this comes with extreme enrichment of pharmaceutical companies. One such startup company focused on by Pain Hustlers is Zanna Pharmaceuticals. They aim at promoting Lonafen-the fentanyl spray intended primarily for cancer patients who need immediate relief from pain upon prescription.Being profitable could be just what Pete Brenner aims at if he wants to become Zanna’s COO one day.

This single mother Liza Drake (Emily Blunt) whose child suffers a brain tumor accompanied by epilepsy meets Pete. Liza accepts Pete’s invitation for a job to market Lonafen, and that is when the suspense starts. Blunt’s outstanding performance in the movie is commendable as well as how her character ascends from an ordinary sales rep to a Marketing VP using every tool available to her. Also, they propagated lies about Lonafen’s addictive nature and bribed several corrupt doctors into prescribing it as a cure to their patients among others mostly by Zanna. Eventually, this led to mass addiction, many fatalities and ultimate collapse of the firm.

The film focuses on the unprecedented success of Zanna Pharmaceuticals followed by its inevitable downfall. Nevertheless, critics argue that there should have been more focus on patients or victims whose lives were destroyed or lost due to Lonafen use. The Wolf of Wall Street atmosphere was deliberately given the movie by David Yates showing how much corruption, scams and wealth Zanna gained through ill ways. This was condemned by some reviewers as inappropriate and morally empty.

The true story behind the film, as well as Hughes’ book, is quite complicated and revolves around Insys. This company developed Subsys, a fentanyl-based drug that was based on Lonafen in Pain Hustlers. According to critics, the complexity of the film and the real-life scandal have not been fully conveyed through the plot. Nonetheless, audiences received it warmly with ratings of 24% from critics and 70% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. This only goes to show that Big Pharma has become a favorite theme for films and shows recently within the entertainment industry.

But Pain Dopesick is not just Netflix’s most recent project about opioid crisis in America. For example: There are many more movies and series about this nowadays. One example is Painkiller which was released earlier this year for TV miniseries becoming an instant hit. The show revolves around the opioid epidemic in America and abuse of OxyContin.

It presents characters trapped by it including both perpetrators and victims as well as those who seek truth. A criminal case analysis looks at responsibility within an episode or across the system; also, there is attention paid to various Americans whose lives were ruined due to systemic breakdowns. To some extent, this motif resembles what we see in Pain Hustlers.

Another widespread TV program concerning opioid crisis which attracted huge audience interest is Hulu’s Dopesick. Hulu’s Dopesick television series adapted from Beth Macy’s book Dopesick Dealers, Doctors, and The Drug Company That Addicted America aired in 2021 where viewers enjoyed its interwoven storyline alongside stellar performances led by Michael Keaton.

For his role as Samuel Finnix a rural family doctor of integrity he won SAG Award for Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries.Similarly with ‘Painkiller’, Dopesick aims at getting Purdue Pharma to ensure that each doctor prescribes OxyContin to every probable patient.

Significantly, Pain Hustlers, Painkiller and Dopesick have drawn attention to the protracted matter of opiate crisis while also trying to enlighten the public about Big Pharma’s threats to human health in general. And that is why people like these recent movies and shows. The future will not be surprising if we continue seeing more of such films and series.

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