Hulu Review: 'Dopesick' Miniseries About Purdue Pharma and the Rise of Oxycontin

"Dopesick" cast, from left: Peter Sarsgaard, John Hoogenakker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Keaton, Will Pouter, Kaitlyn Dever and Rosario Dawson.

The opioid epidemic is Hollywood's new favorite story to tell. Several current movies - Crisis, Four Good Days, The Evening Hour - focus on this issue as does Dopesick, an eight-episode miniseries on Hulu. Where Crisis takes a fictional approach to Big Pharma's complicity, Dopesick names names - specifically Purdue Pharma, the infamous manufacturer of Oxycontin.

It's about how Purdue aspired to be at the top of the Pharma food chain. They hyped Oxy as wonder drug, that it was non-addictive. However, when it failed to work effectively for pain sufferers, Purdue instructed doctors to increase the recommended dosages, hooking people like Betsy Mallum (Kaitlyn Dever), a coal miner in Virginia with a bad back, and her doctor, Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton), who prescribed the drug and eventually also became dependent on it. Purdue sales rep Billy Cutler (Will Pouter) wines and dines Finnix and other doctors, convincing them that 160 mg dose are OK to give patients. Despite frecord earning, Cutler realizes he's on the wrong sider and starts questioning company directives. 

Evil in this story is embodied by the Sackler family who relentlessly pushed the drug on Americans. Richard (Michael Stulberg) takes over family control and continues the campaign azs the DEA, Justice Department investigators and FDA close in. Prosecutors Rick Mountcastle (Peter Sarsgaard) and Randy Ramseyer (John Hoogenakker) and DEA agent Bridget Meyer (Rosario Dawson) work hard to take the Sacklers down.

In the end of the series, Purdue loses a court case. By 2020, they'd be out of business and fentanyl had become the new opioid of abuse. Dopesick Part 2? 

Dopesick is not artful and brutal like Narcos. It's direct and to the point. All eight episodes are now streaming on Hulu. 


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.