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While watching Hulu’s Dopesick, many viewers report screaming at the TV over the horrific way that Purdue Pharma marketed OxyContin. In the 8-episode series, creator Danny Strong detailed how instrumental Richard Sackler was in peddling it as less addictive. He also included storylines following a doctor who prescribed OxyContin, patients who became addicted, and a few unsuccessful attempts to take the drug off the market. However, in an exclusive interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Strong detailed one storyline he had to cut from the series.
What is Hulu’s ‘Dopesick’ about?
While producing Dopesick for Hulu, Strong took many events from Beth Macy’s nonfiction book about addiction to OxyContin in Appalachia. The series follows four main storylines while telling the origin story of the opioid epidemic in America. The arc following Richard Sackler and Purdue Pharma is based on the real-life Sackler family. They were instrumental in marketing and distributing OxyContin.
In another storyline, Dopesick on Hulu follows several composite characters in the fictional town of Finch Creek, Virginia. A sales representative for Purdue Pharma, Billy Cutler (Will Poulter), convinces small-town doctor Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton) to prescribe OxyContin for moderate pain. However, he and his patients quickly become addicted to the drug.
Meanwhile, DEA agent Bridget Mayer (Rosario Dawson) pleaded with the FDA to take action in 2002. In the final storyline, the show jumps to 2006. Rick Mountcastle (Peter Sarsgaard) and Randy Ramseyer (John Hoogenakker) work diligently in Virginia to bring a criminal case against Purdue. The appalling thing about the entire Hulu series is that the events in Dopesick are devastatingly accurate.
EP Danny Strong wanted to include more about Arthur Sackler in Hulu’s Dopesick
In an interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Danny Strong detailed an entire storyline he had to cut from Dopesick on Hulu.
“I wanted to do a full storyline of Arthur Sackler in the 50s and the 60s,” Strong explained to Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “As sort of like a godfather storyline going back in time. And then I did it in episode seven, just with the [Senator Estes] Kefauver testimony in front of the Kefauver hearings. I wanted that to be a whole storyline for the whole season. And unfortunately, there was just too much at the end. And so I cut it.”
Viewers learn more about Richard’s Uncle Arthur (Kenneth Tigar) in Dopesick Episode 7. It’s the perfect time to learn about the man that Richard speaks of so often because viewers are fully aware of Richard’s methods for marketing OxyContin by that point in the series. In episode 7, the creators reveal that Arthur used the same techniques of hiring experts to back the company’s claims and creating medical publications to help market the drug. According to Hulu’s Dopesick, many of the methods used to market OxyContin came straight from Arthur Sackler’s playbook. However, Strong wanted to include more information about Arthur in the series.
Where to find out more about Arthur Sackler
Viewers who were sucked into the “Purdue Pharma rabbit hole” by Hulu’s Dopesick can learn more about Arthur Sackler in the book Empire Pain.
“There’s an incredible book called Empire Pain to tell you [Arthur’s] entire story, and it is an unbelievable story,” Strong told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “It’s a great book and covers a lot of what the show covers, and it came out right after we wrapped the TV production. I just remember reading that thinking, ‘Why didn’t you come out four months ago?’”
Dopesick drops to Hulu weekly on Wednesdays at 12:01 EST.
How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
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