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Painkiller: Netflix orders drama about opioid crisis

Staff Writer

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Netflix is moving from Narcos to the opioid crisis with new drama Painkiller.

Eric Newman (Children of Men) will serve as Executive Producer as part of his overall deal with Netflix where he is showrunner on Narcos and Narcos: Mexico, while Emmy nominated writing duo Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster (A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, Transparent) will write and serve as Showrunners and Executive Producers.

“A tragedy decades in the making, the opioid crisis has become one of the most devastating public health crises of our time,” says Newman. “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.”

The series is loosely based on work by Patrick Radden Keefe (Dirty Money), who wrote New Yorker’s The Family That Built An Empire of Pain, and Barry Meier, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of the groundbreaking book Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic. They will both consult on the drama.

“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,” adds Newman.

Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room) will serve as Executive Producer, while Peter Berg (The Leftovers, Friday Night Lights) will direct all eight episodes.

Berg says: “I am really charged to be a part of such an in depth exploration of the genesis of the opioid travesty. 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.”

Cindy Holland, Vice President, Content, Netflix, comments: “Eric Newman has masterfully chronicled the drug trade for years and now I’m excited to see him join forces with the incredible Alex Gibney, Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster to take a more expansive view of the opioid epidemic. Combined with the directing of Peter Berg, Painkiller promises to be a powerful look behind the headlines of a tragedy happening in real time.”

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