HBO is reuniting with Emmy and Oscar winning filmmaker Alex Gibney for the two-part documentary The Crime of the Century, which will explore Big Pharma and government regulations over the reckless distribution and abuse of synthetic opiates. The Crime of the Century will debut on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max in May.
The doc will explore the origins and fallout of the opioid epidemic which has resulted in half a million deaths from overdoses in this century alone.
With the help of whistleblowers, insiders, newly-leaked documents, exclusive interviews and access to behind-the-scenes investigations, and featuring expert input from medical professionals, journalists, former and current government agents, attorneys and pharmaceutical sales representatives, as well as sobering testimony from victims of opioid addiction, Gibney’s exposé will posit that drug companies are in fact largely responsible for manufacturing the very crisis they profit from, to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of lives.
Specifically, the doc will zero in on family-owned Purdue Pharma which produced the highly addictive drug OxyContin. Purdue worked closely with the FDA to get the highly profitable pain medication approved for wider use, promoting its safety without sufficient evidence, and creating a campaign to redefine pain and treatment. When government regulators or Justice Department officials tried to mitigate the wrongdoing, Purdue Pharma and companies like Cardinal-Health that were huge opioid distributors would settle the cases, keep the details private and continue on unabated.
Gibney previously made such HBO docs such as The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley and Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief. Gibney writes, produces and directs The Crime of the Century.
Contributing to Part One of The Crime of the Century are: author Patrick Radden Keefe; opioid specialist Dr. Andrew Kolodny; former Purdue sales rep. Mark Ross; addiction specialist Dr. Anne Lembke; Life Tree pain clinic founder Dr. Lynn Webster; Roy Bosley, whose wife died of an opioid overdose; author and New York Times reporter Barry Meier; primary care physician Dr. Art Van Zee; former Department of Justice official Paul Pelletier; and EMT Giles Sartin.
Part Two shines a spotlight on the mass marketing of the synthetic opioid fentanyl and examines the connections between drug manufacturers and government policy. While America’s silent epidemic was killing 40 people a day, Insys Therapeutics, an upstart opioid manufacturer of fentanyl, continued to bribe doctors to overprescribe. A complex scheme to defraud the insurance companies existed side by side with fraudulent marketing tactics while lawmakers continued to turn a blind eye to the implications of a complex pipeline that delivered billions of pills around the country.
Part Two includes insights from former DEA agent Joe Rannazzisi; former DEA attorney Jonathan Novak; Washington Post reporters Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham, Lenny Bernstein; Assistant U.S. Attorneys for Massachusetts David Lazarus, Nathaniel Yeager and Fred Wyshak; former V.P. of Sales at Insys Alec Burlakoff; former Insys regional sales manager Sunrise Lee; and fentanyl dealer Sidney Caleb Lanier.
HBO Documentary Films’ presents a Jigsaw Production in association with Storied Media Group. Sarah Dowland and Svetlana Zill also produce. EPs are Stacey Offman, Richard Perello, Todd Hoffman, and Aaron Fishman; For HBO: senior producer, Tina Nguyen; EPs are Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.
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