Painkiller Season 1 Episode 4 Recap – What is the Elite Toppers Club at Purdue Pharma?

By Marc Miller
Published: August 10, 2023 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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Painkiller Season 1 Episode 4 Recap - What is the Elite Toppers Club at Purdue Pharma?


“Is Believed” continues to be too indulgent but adds jaw-dropping revelations regarding government regulation of controlled substances.

This recap of the Netflix series Painkiller Season 1 Episode 4, “Is Believed,” contains spoilers.

“Is Believed” opens with an adult mother reading off a disclaimer about the series while holding a picture of her and her daughter, Elizabeth. In this story, Elizabeth died of a drug overdose due to her opioid addiction.

As she tells it, Elizabeth was full of life and love, and she misses her dearly and never wants to go a day without remembering the joy that her daughter brought to her life.

Painkiller Season 1 Episode 4 Recap

Edie brings her boss to a community meeting about the abuse of OxyContin, causing rampant violent crime in the area, such as armed robbery, assault, death, and even murder. Her boss says the pressing problem is the lack of evidence due to strict approvals and regulations that a crime has been committed.

What is the Elite Toppers Club at Purdue Pharma?

The Elite Toppers are part of the highest-selling marketing reps in the company. When Shannon walks into the Purdue Pharma corporate office in Connecticut, she is welcomed by a dozen marketing representatives. That means they have had the best sales in the company.

READ: TV Shows like Painkiller

Shannon is given a framed certificate and a bonus. Howard Udell then has a private conversation with Shannon and tells her to call if she has concerns. Reading between the lines, Shannon means to leave her concerns out of her notes. Shannon has gone over to the dark side as Britt convinces her to take the money. She rents her own luxury apartment and purchases a Porsche.

What is Richard’s plan to deal with OxyContin’s negative press?

After the overdose of the teenage girl Jess, Richard’s damage control plan is to blame and punish the abusers of the prescribed substance, not the company he oversees. Edie claims he would do anything to protect their golden goose. They even have a plan for Oxy supporters, shaping the narrative of the death due to abuse. The series then shows real footage of doctors blaming the victims.

READ: Painkiller Season 1 Review

Dr. Fitzgibbons warned Shannon about the dangers of the prescription painkiller, stating it’s essentially heroin. He never prescribed the drug to Jess, who has been there since birth. Instead, Dr. Cooper, following Shannon’s instructions, prescribed the drugs to the teenage girl.

Why is the NEJM research article cited by Purdue Pharma inappropriate?

Sackler’s landmark study from Drs. Porter and Jink, in the NEJM January 1980 research article, was a letter to the editor. Edie takes the information she found from Dr. Ftizgibbons and approaches one of the authors, Jick. He tells Edie that his letter was based on short-term opioid use in a controlled environment, like a hospital, and not remotely related to long-term, unsupervised use.

This key theme in Richard’s language throughout the series is how the physician should supervise OxyContin, giving him legal coverage. However, during a scene with Dr. Cooper at a Purdue Pharma conference, the narrative switched to patients can manage their pain. This narrative was developed to blame the victims.

According to the series, Jick was unaware that his letter became the “gospel” of Purdue Pharma’s pain management videos. He questions how the FDA allowed Sackler to misrepresent his letter. Edie discovers that Curtis Wright, the medical officer, signed off on the language.

Why is Tyler staying with his father, Jack?

Tyler left home after his mother blamed him for Glen’s addiction to OxyContin. While working on a car high on opioids, Glen failed to lock the car on the lift he was working on. The vehicle crashed to the ground, missing Glen, but he was shaken and drug-induced. When Tyler tells his mom he saw Glen taking pills at night, she blames him for Glen’s addiction, putting the fault on him.

Glen tells his wife he will bring Tyler home, blaming himself, and she tells him he has to quit taking opioids. While driving to pick him up, Glen takes some OxyContin, arriving at Jack’s place in the opioid “nodding out” state. Jack sees he is high, tells Tyler to get inside, and escorts him back to his truck, even needing help to put his seatbelt on. Glen then leaves, driving away.

Painkiller Season 1 Episode 4 Ending Explained

How does Edie catch Purdue Pharma executives lying?

While watching live testimony, Howard Udell claims Purdue Pharma was unaware of the opioid epidemic until Maine’s U.S. Attorney Jack McCloskey reported it. Edie later informs her boss that letters from a doctor in Virginia warned Purdue Pharma about OxyContin’s dangers years before McCloskey’s report. Per Edie, they finally have them.

In the end, Edie reflects on a setback in the present day, indicating something went wrong. Shannon looks guilty, knowing her notes on the product’s addictive nature she gave to Britt prove Udell was lying. Finally, Glen obtains opioids illegally and snorts them, and his wife leaves messages yelling at him for being high at Jack’s place.

What did you think of Painkiller Season 1 Episode 4? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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