America is firmly in the grips of a serious drug epidemic, only this time it isn’t crack cocaine, or heroin and while I could be talking about crystal meth, as that is currently a serious problem too, the big problem facing the United States right now is a widespread addiction to a completely legal painkiller called Oxycontin. In fact, Oxycontin is causing more deaths annually than any of crack, heroin, or meth. Yes, more people will die this year from Oxycontin than will die this year from Meth.
Many are of course being prescribed the drug for legitimate purposes, the painkiller is simply among the most effective at treating chronic pain and is often used to treat terminally ill cancer patients. Some 100 million prescriptions have been written in fifteen years, and while it is impossible to know how many of those have found their way to the black market, the figure is likely to be high. Oxycontin is effectively a strain of pure heroin, so that’s 100 million bottles of legal heroin being circulated legally by pharma companies and doctors.
Addicts become experts at duping doctors into prescribing them bottles, while legal dispensaries in some parts of the country – Florida in particular – have come nothing more than drug dealers protected by federal law. Florida has built a reputation as being “the Colombia of prescription drugs” and in the making of this documentary the producers discovered a pipeline which starts in Fort Lauderdale and meets the supply of most of the country. It should be of no great surprise of course, it is as easy to buy Oxycontin in Florida as it is to buy a bottle of Aspirin.