Fresh off their deep-dive into the QAnon conspiracy theory, Q: Into the Storm, the HBO documentary machine is firing up once again with a sobering look into the American opioid epidemic, entitled The Crime of the Century. This original documentary from director Alex Gibney (Going Clear, Citizen K) “exposes the billions of dollars gained and thousands of lives lost due to the opioid crisis,” and premieres on HBO Max on May 10. You can see the first trailer below.
The trailer makes it clear that the documentary will squarely be taking aim at Purdue Pharma L.P., the pharmaceuticals giant that first developed the extended release form of Oxycodone, marketed as OxyContin. The company marketed its new drug extremely aggressively, courting doctors and illegally providing them with vast incentives in order to write prescriptions for OxyContin as a way of managing severe pain—despite those doctors being aware that the drug had the likelihood of creating crippling addictions. Those addictions, and the overdoses that come with them, have since killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Purdue Pharma had been under fire for years due to their role in fostering this crisis, paying out fines in 2007 for mislabeling of OxyContin but still continuing to sell opioids until 2019. That year, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. On Oct. 21, 2020, meanwhile, it was reported that Purdue had reached a settlement with the U.S. government worth more than $8.3 billion that would result in the closure of the company, acknowledging in the process that it “knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with others to aid and abet” the dispensation of medication “without a legitimate medical purpose.”
The story is sure to be explored in far more depth within The Crime of the Century. Check out the first trailer below.