Unfortunately, the opioid crisis, also known as the opioid epidemic, is a very real thing in America, and it still affects people today. A new Netflix series, Painkiller, highlights the origins of it and the manufacturer responsible for introducing the drug to society. Is the show based on a true story?
The limited series has a total of six episodes that debuted Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, on Netflix. The drama stars Uzo Aduba as Edie, Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler, Sam Anderson as Raymond Sackler, Taylor Kitsch as Glen Kryger, Carolina Bartczak as Lily Kryger, Tyler Ritter as John Brownlee, John Ales as Dr. Gregory Fitzgibbons, and more.
So are the events that happen in the show based on reality? Did they actually happen? We’ve got the answer for you below.
Is Painkiller based on a true story?
Painkiller is based on true events, but it’s not necessarily based on one particular true story. The Netflix synopsis defines the series as a “fictionalized retelling of events.” In other words, the production uses real-life events of the opioid crisis but has created it in a way that may not be 100% factual for television purposes. This isn’t a documentary. Also, some of the characters in the story are based on real people, while others were created for the series.
Though, the creators did take inspiration from The New Yorker article, “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain” by Patrick Radden Keefe, as well as the book Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic by author Barry Meier.
What is Painkiller about?
Painkiller is centered around the company that manufactures OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, and the victims of the epidemic “whose lives are forever altered” by the invention of the drug. We follow the characters as the show explores themes of examining crime, accountability, and the multiple systems that have “repeatedly failed hundreds of thousands of Americans,” per the synopsis.
All six episodes of Painkiller are now streaming on Netflix.