What to watch (and read) after Netflix series Painkiller

Painkiller. Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler in episode 105 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023
Painkiller. Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler in episode 105 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023 /
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Given Painkiller’s status as the number one show on Netflix’s Top 10, we feel confident saying many viewers have been captivated by the fictional retelling of OxyContin’s origins. If you’re interested in learning more about Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, keep reading to find out what books, shows, and documentaries should be next on your list!

Painkiller is an easy binge-watch at just six episodes, but there is a lot of ground to cover with this story. There are many books, movies, television shows, documentaries, podcasts, and more about the opioid epidemic, the Sackler dynasty, and Purdue Pharma. Once you’ve finished watching the show, the following options are a great way to spend your time.

What to read after watching Painkiller

After finishing Painkiller, the most obvious choice for reading material is the article and book the show is based on: The New Yorker article by Patrick Radden Keefe and Barry Meier’s book Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic.

Patrick Radden Keefe also wrote a comprehensive and highly-acclaimed book called Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, a great supplement to the show.

Documentaries on the opioid crisis

HBO produced a positively-reviewed two-part documentary called The Crime of the Century about the opioid epidemic and Purdue Pharma. Netflix also has a few investigative documentaries on heroin, meth, cannabis, and opioids.

Here are some Netflix docs worth checking out:

  • The Pharmacist
  • The Business of Drugs
  • Take Your Pills
  • How to Fix a Drug Scandal
Michael Keaton in Dopesick — (Photo by: Gene Page/Hulu)
Michael Keaton in Dopesick — (Photo by: Gene Page/Hulu) /

Shows like Painkiller

Painkiller has been frequently compared to Hulu’s drama series Dopesick, which many critics found the superior series of the two. The Emmy-nominated series Dopesick stars Michael Keaton and explores the opioid epidemic from the boardrooms of Purdue Pharma to the communities most impacted by the effects of OxyContin.

The Netflix series Narcos might also interest those who enjoyed Painkiller. Narcos focuses on the cocaine trade in Colombia and the most significant drug kingpins of the 1980s, including Pablo Escobar.

Next. All episodes of Painkiller recapped. dark