Dopesick presents another strong chapter as we learn about manipulated data and a flawed system that triggered the opioid epidemic.
This recap of Hulu series Dopesick episode 6, “Hammer the Abusers,” does not contain spoilers.
Dopesick episode 6 recap
Episode 6 opens in 2002, showing the farming of opioids from cargo to production. It then shows a long queue of people at a pharmacy who wanted OxyContin. Some sniff it, some inject it. It’s a horrifying epidemic. It then flits to the year 2000; a USA attorney presents a press conference discussing the grave danger of OxyContin; they’ve sent a letter to every doctor in the state of Maine. It’s like everyone is wise to it but powerless to stop the monster brewing in the communities.
Samuel is still in rehab, and he is hearing everyone’s stories about unmanageable lives on drug addiction. He doesn’t want to speak his truth yet. He asks other patients how many times they have been to rehabilitation and wonders if it works. A patient tells him it’s either jail or the morgue. However, Samuel remains doubtful of his chances.
Bridget and her husband are struggling with their marriage due to her fight against OxyContin; a family member needs those drugs, so it’s become a moot point for them. Bridget meets the FDA again with a softer tone. She reminds them that lives are being destroyed by the drug and wants them to consider that they are wrong. Bridget needs to prove that OxyContin is defective by the way it’s prescribed, so they take action. She needs statistics. However, when she wants data on overdoses, there isn’t any. She demands an exhaustive study from her team.
In the year 2000, the sales team celebrate their billion dollars in revenue. It’s party time. But it’s scary; the revenues themselves prove addiction. Billy is uncomfortable and calls one of the sales rep an “a*****e,” which nearly turns into a fight. Amber takes Billy away from the situation. Billy asks Amber if she likes him and walks out of the party. Billy is clearly dealing with his moral conscience.
As for Betsy, her church prays for her a circle. They vow to free her with Jesus Christ. She’s struggling badly with being dopesick. Betsy tells the pastor that she’s not sure if it will work because she’s never believed in God since being a little girl. The pastor still believes the lord can still help her now.
Rick and Randy continue their voyage to get to the bottom of the truth. They talk to an ex-professional who states that the evidence made him believe that the drug felt safe. And then, they look at the charts that would convince the FDA that OxyContin was safe; the blood charts were manipulated to give a false impression. Only a trained data scientist would see it. The concern is how the FDA didn’t see it. The series highlights flaws in a system.
Richard Sackler wants to “hammer the abusers” and prove that they are stopping the life-saving medication. His counsel tells Richard that he shouldn’t attend the latest meeting with the US attorney as he’s too close to the subject of addiction. He tells Richard that the meeting went well, but they should set up a system to instantly delete emails. Richard isn’t his usual self in episode 6 — the weight of the controversial drug provides the pressure that he did not wish for.
Samuel finally speaks up about his experiences at rehab. He talks about his life as a doctor and how prescribing OxyContin provided a disservice to his patients; some of them died. He feels like he betrayed them and let them down. Samuel still feels addicted and doesn’t feel like he can go out in the world. His advisor tells Samuel to take it a day at a time.
And then episode 6 shows there’s a glimmer of hope for a life after addiction. Betsy continues to fight with her recovery; staying beside her parents and exercising while embracing her religion. However, sadly, Samuel ends up on OxyContin again. His ex-colleague visits him after he called her the night before, saying he would kill himself. She knows he’s using again. Samuel admits rehab did not work, and it feels impossible. His ex-colleague recommends methadone and names a clinic.
Rick and Randy meet an FDA staff member about the scientific charts. They show the pharmaceutical company’s blood chart that is a clear misrepresentation of the data. The staff member is shocked by the chart and claims that the FDA specifically told them not to use this data. He’s shellshocked. The staff member is willing to testify. There is finally success for Rick and Randy.
Bridget’s research team is struggling; nearly all case studies have multiple drugs used in the system. They’ve only found a dozen overdoses with OxyContin, but they expected 150. Bridget is winded and tells her team to stop the research. The case is taking its toll on her; she’s just learned of a kid she knew has died of an overdose. She blames herself, and her husband reassures her that it’s not her fault.
Episode 6 takes a dark and upsetting turn. Betsy has made progress in her recovery, but she feels sad that she lost her relationship with her ex, which triggers a relapse. The dopesickness has not left, and she prays to herself in bed every night to keep her on the path. However, late at night, she finds her drug dealer and asks for OxyContin. He offers her heroin instead. Betsy accepts, and this is a sad moment. It’s easy to hate some scenes in Dopesick.
Samuel heads to the clinic that his ex-colleague recommended. He is prescribed methadone. He needs to come every day, seven days a week. The nurse tells him he’s on the road to recovery.
The episode ends with Bridget getting an update from her research team with new data. There’s evidence of how abusers start on OxyContin, which enables the path to drugs like heroin, which leads to overdose. Bridget feels she has finally got the missing piece of the jigsaw.
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