The opioid crisis now takes more lives than car accidents, we are soberingly informed at the opening of the outstanding, heartbreaking new documentary “Warning: This Drug May Kill You,” from filmmaker Perri Peltz. Watching a loved one succumb to something that was supposed to take away the pain — only to spiral down into a hell of addiction — is a frightening daily reality for millions of Americans now in the grasp of legal pharmaceuticals that are far, far deadlier than street drugs.
Ms. Peltz weaves together three stories from across the American strata of everyday people who were prescribed opioids by their doctors for such rudimentary problems as kidney stones. Soon the cure in fact becomes the disease, and the “Warning” subjects relate, with alarming clarity of how easy it was, of doctors continuing to pile on more and more pills — essentially feeding an addiction with ever more dope to combat symptoms that have almost certainly long since ceased.
The documentary also shows video from an early-‘90s Big Pharma campaign touting the safety of their newest painkillers, and how reports of addictiveness are overblown. The subjects of “Warning” have seen firsthand how bogus is that information. The addicts and/or their families speak candidly to the camera of the hells they’ve endured, and weeping openly at those who have been lost: parents, siblings, friends.
In such a divided time, the opioid crisis remains one of the few truly bipartisan concerns on Capitol Hill, where aisle-crossing is not only possible but prospering in the search to address a truly harrowing epidemic. “Warning” is a searing 60-minute indictment of a beast that Big Pharma has continued to feed, and whose claws now reach every nook and crevice of America, with the medical community unknowingly — or unwittingly — turning patients into customers.
For many, there will be no return for more.
*This movie is available to view on HBO by subscription or HBO On Demand programming. You can view a preview of the film by going to: http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/warning-this-drug-may-kill-you The SACK Coalition will be looking at ways to present this to members of our coalition and/or our community in the future.