Alex Gibney Takes on Opioids in HBO Doc


The two-part documentary airs this summer.

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HBO has released the first trailer for Alex Gibney’s new documentary, The Crime of the Century, which will premiere May 10. The two-parter is “a searing indictment of Big Pharma and the political operatives and government regulations that enable over-production, reckless distribution and abuse of synthetic opiates,” according to HBO. The Crime of the Century will explore the origins and effects of a public health crisis that has claimed half a million lives in this century.

“You can make a lot of money getting doctors to prescribe a medication to people who don’t need it,” says Alec Burlakoff, the former VP of sales for Insys, a defunct opioid manufacturer, at the beginning of the trailer over footage of pills, cash and bodybags. “The doctor—he’s a businessman,” Burlakoff continues. “I gotta show him the WIFM: what’s in it for me?…it’s about you prescribing the medication and me paying you as a direct result. Are you in or are you out?”

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Image via HBO

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Produced in association with The Washington Post, The Crime of the Century will also feature interviews with medical professionals, insiders, and victims of opioid addiction. “We were constantly being told to get over our opioid phobia,” says Dr. Anna Lembke. “No dose is too high and your patient can’t get addicted. Patient Gary Blinn says a Purdue Pharma representative told him to take as much OxyContin as he needed. “It would take me 15 minutes just to eat ‘em all,” Blinn says of his OxyContin dosage. “It was like sitting down to a bowl of Cheerios.”

The Crime of the Century looks to be another hard-hitting exposé from Gibney, who’s made a career of tackling controversial subjects. He won three Emmys in 2015 for Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, and he won an Oscar for his 2008 look at the U.S. torture and interrogation techniques in Afghanistan, Taxi to the Dark Side. Gibney’s look at another corporate scandal, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, won him an Oscar nomination in 2006.

After discussing such topics as Scientology, torture, and Enron, amongst many others, Gibney is the perfect filmmaker to take on the opioid crisis. The Crime of the Century debuts on HBO on May 10. Check out the trailer for The Crime of the Century below.

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