Episode 5 of Dopesick begins with a woman named Marianne Skolick working tirelessly through the years to try and get someone – anyone – to look into Purdue Pharma. Following the death of her daughter at the hands of Oxy, she’s determined to try and get her justice. Thankfully she finds that through Rick Mountcastle, who rings and asks to talk.
Meanwhile, Finnix continues to slip further into addiction. In fact, he’s up to over 400mg a day. It’s shocking and his nonchalance toward the dosage is telling unto itself. If that wasn’t enough to show how addictive this drug is, Betsy sells her mother’s jewelry to fund her addiction too.
Unfortunately, this Oxy epidemic is about to get a whole lot worse. Richard Sackler intends to launch a new 160mg pill. He also wants to put himself up as the president of Purdue in the process. This would bring billions in profit – but only if they vote for him.
Now, given Purdue are pushing reps to dangerously sell higher of OxyContin onto people, Rick and Randy begin sifting through all the notes sent in from sales reps about their concerns. There are numerous call notes (hundreds to be precise) from reps who have reported instances of the drug being abused through crushing and snorting pills.
Now, apparently all the sales reps knew that the drug was more addictive than other opioids but that FDA label was enough to convince them otherwise. One of the reps even signed an NDA with her severance package too, which appears to be a common occurrence given no one wants to talk to the pair.
Back in 1999, Udell’s secretary, Maureen Sara, is tasked with investigating Oxy through the chatrooms. What she finds is shocking. Numerous people are cheating the system, addiction rates are through the roof and there’s even tips on how to get the biggest high. Sara immediately sends an email exhibiting her concerns, CCing in all the executives in the email she sends about her findings.
Finally the message gets out and with OxyContin becoming ever-more addictive, the government jump in and decide to investigate this for themselves. Well, it turns out the aforementioned whistleblower is Marianne Skolick, the woman from the first scene of the series. This gives more context to what’s going on and it turns out she’s been collecting merchandise from Purdue as well to show their deceptive marketing schemes. And that seller? Howard Udell’s secretary, Sara.
Elsewhere, Finnix prepares to do surgery but obviously he’s still feeling the effects of Oxy. He completely botches the procedure and as blood pours out the wound, he calls for an ambulance. When the man is taken to hospital, Finnix acts shadily and even asks for Oxy from one of the doctors, which inevitably sees him arrested.
Another character that’s struggling badly is Betsy. After selling her mother’s jewellery at the pawn shop, Betsy arrives home to find her parents absolutely distraught. Her father drops all the pills down the sink as Betsy goes completely insane, lighting her things on fire and hoping her parents burn in hell. And this, of course, gets her a one-way ticket to rehab.
Meanwhile, the press release has certainly ruffled some feathers so Bridget Meyer shows up and listens in to Richard Sackler and the others promising to do their best to stifle the flow of drug addiction. While everyone else pussyfoots around the crux of the issue, Bridget goes straight for the jugular. Given Richard is reading off notes, she refers to his feeble ideas as akin to putting a band aid on a gunshot wound.
People are dying and Bridget refuses to let this go. She’s going to do everything she can to get Oxy off the streets. As she and Richard lock eyes, the meeting is adjourned.
Bridget is determined to keep up the pressure, intending to go after the FDA again. Her tenacity is enough for her boss to give her the green-light in pursing this line of action.
Elsewhere, Randy and Rick go after Maureen Sara. It turns out she shredded all of the emails associated with the Purdue addiction issue and everything has been swept under the rug. She speaks of her harrowing ordeal, and the unfortunate addiction to Oxy she experienced shortly after getting in a car accident.
Udell encouraged her to go on OxyContin but she ended up getting addicted. If that wasn’t enough Purdue then fired her for being an addict.Upon learning that her testimony would be made in secret in front of the jury, she agrees to speak up against Purdue. Unfortunately, she also ends up relapsing from the stress later that evening, calling out for Oxy. Showing off her mental fragility, Rick and Randy realize they can’t use her for a testimony.
Meanwhile, Richard Sackler gets a big double sucker punch. Not only is he denied the opportunity of being president by Morty, he also finds out that Germany is a no-go. Off the back of this, Richard Sackler decides to press ahead and run with him being made president. He manages to convince Kathe to join him, as she helps swing the balance of power over to Richard. They usurp Morty, who’s absolutely mortified that he’s been played, as Kathe is made Vice president.
The Episode Review
The horrifying truth about OxyContin comes out this episode, exemplifying the sheer horror of drug addiction and how widespread this issue has become.
With both Betsy and Finnix falling prey to this drug, and it causing no end of problems across the community, it falls to Randy, Rick and Bridget to try and stop Purdue before it’s too late.
This whole dynamic is really well-written and works perfectly to help understand just how dangerous this drug is and how hard these men and women are working to stop it from spreading further. Not only that, it also shows the extent that Purdue will go to sweep all of this under the rug. Then again, with FDA approval for this opioid, it’s not exactly going to be easy to take them all down.
Ultimately, everything rests on the witness statements and we know from earlier in the season that Finnix is going to be one of those people. Who will join him? We’ll have to wait and see.