When Danny Strong first came across the big pharma story behind the OxyContin crisis, he was completely unaware that he was being introduced to his next passion project. Upon learning about the heinous marketing practices of Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, Strong was determined to bring the story to the screen. He wrote the series to illustrate how this family-run pharmaceutical company contributed to thousands of unsuspecting Americans becoming addicted to the drug.
A Story Highlighting How Far People Will Go to Make a Profit
Wanting to show just how far some people will go to make a profit at the expense of others drove Strong’s storytelling, making for a dynamic visual experience that viewers of the series will appreciate. “Dopesick” tells the story of the people who suffered at the hands of companies and doctors they trusted and the people behind the scenes who prioritize financial gain over ethical marketing and business practices.
Strong, outraged and angered by the actions of Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, decided that the larger story behind the incident needed to be told to a much larger audience. Sighting himself as an advocate of truthful storytelling, Strong could not resist the urge to make the best-selling non-fiction book by Beth Macy into a visual experience. The goal is to hopefully pique people’s interest in learning more about the events that lead to a nationwide health crisis.
The people and stories behind the drama are real, but Strong does fictionalize some elements of the story for visual depth. Strong covers real-life events in a way that will engage, captivate, and leave viewers invested in the characters and their experiences. “Dopesick” aims to be a teaching tool in addition to an entertainment piece.
A Story That’s More Than Just Entertainment
The seriesis Danny Strong’s way of holding the Sackler family accountable for the way they marketed OxyContin to doctors and consumers. The practices of their company, Purdue Pharma, contributed to thousands of people and their families suffering the consequences of opioid addiction. In his effort to expand the conversation about prescription drug addiction, Strong lays out the series with precision and dedication. [Danny Strong Biography]
The eight-part series features an all-star cast, including Michael Keaton, Kaitlyn Dever, Rosario Dawson, Will Poulter, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Keaton’s character, Dr. Samuel Finnix, is a small Appalachian town doctor who gets swept up in the crisis after he begins prescribing OxyContin to his patients under the belief that the drug is safe and non-addictive. Dever plays as a patient who gets prescribed the drug by Finnix due to her back injury and becomes dependent. Will Poulter plays Purdue Pharma sales rep Billy Cutler who eagerly markets for the company. Michael Stuhlbarg plays Richard Sackler, the man behind the company, and Rosario Dawson rounds out the cast as Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) deputy director Bridget Meyer.
Strong serves as a writer, producer, and director on the series, and he uses his personal investment in the story as motivation for how the show is depicted. Strong pushed to create the mini-series as a warning to other countries that distribute drugs like OxyContin to consumers in hopes that other territories will put pharmaceutical regulations in place to prevent the tragic outcomes experienced in America.
Several Storylines Masterfully Woven Together
The plot of the story is uniquely told in several storylines. One focuses on how the drug impacts the small-town doctor and his patients as they use the drug to cope with physical injury and pressing life demands. Another storyline focuses on giving viewers an insight into the family behind the company, the Sacklers, and their primary role in putting the catastrophic events of the story in motion. A third storyline follows law enforcement officers of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as they seek to investigate the Sacklers and uncover the truth behind the dishonorable and dishonest actions of their company, Purdue Pharma.
Strong’s writing for the series is sure to captivate viewers and inspire a deeper look into how greed and the desire for success for some can come at a great cost to others. The show takes on the complex task of depicting the effects of opioid addiction, and the fallout of poor legal regulation for the distribution of drugs that have addictive properties.
Danny Strong’s Awards and Hollywood History
Danny Strong is no stranger to show business. He has over 50 acting credits to his name, having starred in hit shows like 1997’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the smash American comedy-drama series “Gilmore Girls.” Strong has spent years in Hollywood contributing to TV and film, both in front and behind the screen. As a writer, Strong has written alongside other notables such as Lee Daniels (“Empire, & The Butler”) and Peter Craig (“Hunger Games”). As a producer, Strong has lent his storytelling talents to television and film, even founding his own production company, Danny Strong Productions. You can watch Dopesick on Hulu.