Painkiller: Netflix orders opioid crisis series with Peter Berg directing
Painkiller, an eight-episode limited series on the origins of the opioid crisis, has been greenlit at Netflix, Variety has confirmed. Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, The Leftovers) is set to direct all eight episodes.
Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Transparent) will write, showrun, and executive produce the series. Eric Newman, the showrunner for Narcos: Mexico, is executive producing under his overall deal with the streamer.
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“I am really charged to be a part of such an in-depth exploration of the genesis of the opioid travesty,” Berg said. “Companies that profit off of death and addiction are fair game to me when it comes to illuminating the realities of how they go about their business.”
The opioid crisis in America has become a massive public health concern in recent years, with widespread over-prescribing of drugs like fentanyl, Vicodin, and OxyContin leading to massive problems with addiction and overdose deaths.
“A tragedy decades in the making, the opioid crisis has become one of the most devastating public health crises of our time. Unlike other drug epidemics, born from underground manufacturing and covert smuggling, this epidemic began by prescription–dispensed by doctors, approved by government regulators, and promoted by a family-owned pharmaceutical giant that made billions while betraying the trust of patients and the public,” Newman said. “I’m grateful to Micah & Noah, and Alex for bringing this story to me. Noah and Micah’s narrative of how it happened, based on the spectacular reporting of Patrick Radden Keefe and Barry Meier, is heartbreaking and terrifying. I’m honored to be working with the great Alex Gibney and I’m thrilled that Peter Berg is coming on to direct it.”
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Award winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Going Clear) will executive produce. Patrick Radden Keefe (New Yorker’s “The Family That Built An Empire of Pain) and Barry Meier (Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic) will serve as consultants for the series.
(Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)