Epilogue: Dopesick Miniseries Nabs Honors, Purdue Pharma Reaches $6 Billion Settlement and Beth Macy Releases New Book Highlighting Heroes of Opioid Crisis

In 2018, it was my great honor to interview Beth Macy, author of the bestseller “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America” – which was a groundbreaking work on the origins and impact of the opioid crisis. I want to congratulate her on the ongoing impact of her work and her follow-up book, “Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis,” released this August.

November 2021

Dopesick, an eight-part miniseries based on the book premiered on Hulu. It is a powerful and heartbreaking drama that shows the avarice of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma, the devastation it caused in Appalachia, and the courageous fight of the U.S. Attorneys for the Western District of Virginia who struck the first blow against Purdue.

The miniseries has an 89% score on Rotten Tomatoes The show also received multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, with Michael Keaton winning both for his performance as an Appalachian doctor who prescribed and became addicted to OxyContin.

March 2022

A bankruptcy judge approved a settlement between Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family with state Attorneys Generals for 8 states and the District of Columbia under which the Sacker family would pay $6 billion to victims, survivors, and states for their role in the opioid epidemic. (See details below.) The Sackler family would be shielded from further civil, but not criminal, liability. The issue of whether the bankruptcy court could permit such a release for the Sackler family (who were not parties to the bankruptcy) is currently before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

June 2022

Connecticut’s Attorney General, William Tong, indicates he will seek criminal charges against the Sackler family.

August 2022

Beth Macy’s follow-up book, “Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis,” is released.

Publisher Little Brown Books offers this summary:

A “deeply reported, deeply moving” (Patrick Radden Keefe) account of everyday heroes fighting on the front lines of the overdose crisis, from the New York Times bestselling author of Dopesick (inspiration for the Peabody Award-winning Hulu limited series) and Factory Man.

Nearly a decade into the second wave of America’s overdose crisis, pharmaceutical companies have yet to answer for the harms they created. . . . Meanwhile, there is scant consensus between law enforcement and medical leaders, nor an understanding of how to truly scale the programs that are out there, working at the ragged edge of capacity and actually saving lives.

Distilling this massive, unprecedented national health crisis down to its character-driven emotional core as only she can, Beth Macy takes us into the country’s hardest-hit places to witness the devastating personal costs that one-third of America’s families are now being forced to shoulder. Here we meet the ordinary people fighting for the least of us with the fewest resources, from harm reductionists risking arrest to bring lifesaving care to the homeless and addicted to the activists and bereaved families pushing to hold Purdue and the Sackler family accountable. . . .

Like the treatment innovators she profiles, Beth Macy meets the opioid crisis where it is—not where we think it should be or wish it was. Bearing witness with clear eyes, intrepid curiosity, and unfailing empathy, she brings us the crucial next installment in the story of the defining disaster of our era, one that touches every single one of us, whether directly or indirectly. A complex story of public health, big pharma, dark money, politics, race, and class that is by turns harrowing and heartening, infuriating and inspiring, Raising Lazarus is a must-read for all Americans.

November 2022

CVS, Walgreens and Walmart agreed to pay about $13.8 billion to resolve thousands of U.S. state and local lawsuits accusing the pharmacy chains of mishandling opioid pain drugs