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Netflix Series ‘Painkiller’ to Confront the Opioid Epidemic

Fern Siegel

Netflix has greenlit “Painkiller,” a new series that will address the opioid crisis. Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights,” “Lone Survivor”) will direct the eight-episode show. Eric Newman, the showrunner for “Narcos,” is slated as executive producer.

The series is based on two sources, The New Yorker article “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain” and the book “Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic.” Journalist Patrick Radden Keefe and book author Barry Meier will consult on the series.

Commenting on the show’s devastating subject, Newman stated: “A tragedy decades in the making, the opioid crisis has become one of the most devastating public health crises of our time. 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.”

Cindy Holland, vice president of content for Netflix, added: “‘Painkiller’ promises to be a powerful look behind the headlines of a tragedy happening in real time.”

Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster will write and serve as showrunners. The pair wrote the Tom Hanks’ film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” as well as writing-producing four seasons of “Transparent” on Amazon Prime Video.

Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney is also on board “Painkiller” as an executive producer. Gibney is the creative behind Netflix’s series “Dirty Money.” An upcoming episode will focus on the financial scandals of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Netflix is currently running a true-crime documentary about the opioid crisis. “The Pharmacist” concerns a grieving father in Louisiana who exposes the corruption behind the opioid nightmare in the wake of his son’s death.