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SXSW 2021: “The Oxy Kingpins”


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

We don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to understand that when a white-collar crime occurs, those deemed to be less important to society end up in jail instead. Especially when we hear about the opioid crisis in America that killed almost the same number of people as COVID-19, there’s no uproar. At least not enough to stop the spread of corruption within the institution that keeps punishing the wrong people.

“The Oxy Kingpins” is like a true horror film but shot in documentary format. Of course, it’s a documentary, so do not keep your hopes high. You won’t be seeing great acting performances for the award season. And there’s no need for that, really. What you will see in Brendan Fitzgerald’s film is the untold story of how a network of three largest pharmaceutical companies, distributors and retailers create the perfect schema to distribute highly addictive pills, called OxyContin, to get patients severely addicted and make big pharma richer.

TYT Production’s first production deserves high praise for taking aim at a disturbing subject matter that will surely blow your mind away. Informative, scary and eye-popping, the filmmaker invites important documentary subjects like Alex, a former heroin dealer, who shares info about the web of illegal distribution of the painkillers that eventually took many lives. Attorney Mike Papantonio begins his complicated case as well, against Mckesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, showing their schema of avoiding reporting the addictive nature of the substance on which they should have better control.

“The Oxy Kingpins” takes us to Miami, where the camera, without hesitation, captures one office of pain management after another, in which doctors give away one opioid prescription after another like candies. It’s a gut-wrenching experience as you watch this important documentary that uncovers the corruption in the American pharmaceutical industry that makes money off of people’s addiction. They let pharmacies, doctors and drug dealers get their share by worsening the opioid pandemic to an unimaginable level, which will stun you to the core.

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