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Pain Killer: An Empire...
Barry Meier
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Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America's Opioid Epidemic

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  425 ratings  ·  45 reviews
An updated and expanded edition of a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter's prescient investigation of the origins of the opioid addiction epidemic, the greatest health crisis of the 21st century.

Hailed as a prescient, landmark work of investigative journalism, Pain Killer, first published in 2003 and newly updated, tells the tale of medical mistakes, government indifferenc
Kindle Edition, 211 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Random House (first published October 17th 2003)
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Start your review of Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America's Opioid Epidemic
Read ~2009. Amazing must-read and told anyone remotely interested to read it. Just crazy and made my headspin and left me speechless. And yet here we are the bumbling amatuers in the White House feigning concern for poor whites that incredibly voted against their own self-interest to put the Trumpista Nutters in.

Prescient book from 15 years before this epidemic opiates mess.

Read about the crooked Sackler family, raking in billions from Purdue Pharma with greedy evil methods that make the Koch
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My ex-wife died from an Oxycontin overdose and I went through physical withdrawal from it after using heavy doses for recovery from a major car accident. I'd never read a book about the roots of the issue but the story is basically as expected. Everything about the American drug scene is driven by money whether the drugs are legal or illegal. That's the whole problem in my mind. The marketing and pushing of the drug is the sin here not the legality of the drug. If it wasn't Oxycontin it would ha ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
The Sacklers and Purdue pharma are worse than the heroin dealer in your neighborhood. Not only are they just as nefarious in hooking people to deadly addictive drugs for profit but doing so at a scale and with the sanction of law that no two-bit scumbag selling scag could dream of. Disgusting and sordid as any drug lord but only done by a corporation. Much needed account of this nauseating episode in the annals of late capitalism.
Monica Willyard Moen
This book is well researched and well written, more like an unfolding story then a dry report. I have a very mixed reaction to this book because the author does some things very well, and I think he misses one point in a very disappointing way.
The author writes with compassion and understanding of the plight of teenagers and their families who are dealing with opiate addiction. He also writes with compassion understanding of the doctors and policymakers trying to make decisions about how t
Dany Burns
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really great book about the history of the opioid crisis. I’ve read a lot about this topic so some of the information in this book was not new to me but it was presented really well and there was also stuff that was new to me that was very interesting. I thought this book was very well written and very accessible to everyone. I would definitely recommend it.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been following the story of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma for several years, how the company and family were largely responsible for starting and then fanning the flames of the opioid epidemic. The evidence presented by Meir that undercuts their denial of any knowledge of an abuse problem with OxyContini before early in 2000 is quite damning. He wrote: "And the company knew by 1996, internal Purdue emails showed, that addicts had discovered how to defeat MS Contin's time-release form ...more
Dennis Hogan
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic by Barry Meier, the third of three books I’ve read that focus on the opioid crisis; the others are Dopesick:Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy and Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones. Each of the books gives a comprehensive look at the causes and personal devastation from opiate addiction with the same basic cast of characters at the ...more
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
A damning, upsetting expose into Purdue Pharma, the company that created and promoted OxyContin single handedly catalyzing the opioid crisis in the US, one of the worst, and most preventable public health crises in recent history.

It is an updated 2018 version from its original publishing in 2003, so the info pre 2003 is much more thorough than the updates from the last 15 years which was disappointing. I’m still not sure why the FDA/DEA didn’t prevent the drug from being produced without Naloxo
Leslie Jonsson
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories Barry tells in this 2003 book could be told today, of addiction, death, and a pharmaceutical companies desire to not take the blame for causing issues with abuse, misuse and dependence.
Colin Roy
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important and still relevant book about the myriad of agendas and movement behind the scenes that led to the current opium crisis.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an investigation of the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, creator of OxyContin and it's predecessor, MSContin.

It's an examination of their knowledge of OxyContin's potential for abuse, their extensive marketing campaign that was responsible for misrepresenting the drug, and the lack of action taken by Purdue once they realized the drug was being abused by at risk populations as well as healthy people.

It's an indictment of their business practices and ethics.

There are st
Jason Wright
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well reported and written history of OxyContin and its maker Purdue Pharma. Very depressing but important.
May 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Investigative reporter Meier explores the troubling issues raised by the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin, which touched off what many saw as an epidemic of addiction and crime, especially in Appalachia, where the drug became known as "hillbilly heroin.". At one level, Meier's story is a public health quandary pitting the interests of patients and their advocates in the "pain management movement"-which urges the increased use of strong opiates like OxyContin to help cancer patients and ...more
Steven Meyers
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Pain Killer' is about greed. It's that simple. Without question pharmaceutical companies have improved the quality of life for many people. However, not everything they do or have done can be viewed as spewing out rainbows and sunshine, not by a friggin’ long shot. Big Pharma are huge corporate entities focused first-and-foremost on maximizing profits and keeping shareholders happy. Concern for people is secondary. While Mr. Meier's investigation focuses on the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma' ...more
Jan 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the beginning...the author tells the story of people who encountered OxyContin in its early days of abuse and the story of those abusing it. I breezed through the first half of the book, but then the 2nd half became much more of the investigative journalism style, including exposes about the ownership of the producing drug company, the history of the Sackler family, proceedings of trials and examples of correspondence between the DEA, FDA and Purdue Pharma. It was much harder to r ...more
Richard Jeong
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that fits in a spot as a segway to more information as it develops. Written by a journalist as a result of the articles he was doing on OxyContin it's full of truly enlightening information and reads well because of it. It's unfortante that Purdue never actually chimed in, because it would have provided the point of view of both side the author was trying to provide.

All in all though, it's fairly clear to me that OxyContin should not have been formulated with a mechanical deliver
An investigative examination of the marketing and subsequent abuse of the pain drug OxyContin.

I was hoping for something that was more detailed about how OxyContin (and its related family of drugs) works within the body -- more of a medical analysis for the layman. This is not that book.

Meier is a journalist and his writing, while good, is a lot like the newspaper, which is OK if that's what you're looking for. He focuses on the marketing of the drug and the culpability of its manuf
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While not quite as good as Sam Quinones's Dreamland (which edges it out by being the most thorough account I've read thus far), Barry Meier's book is also interesting--I read it in one day--and a thorough explanation of the OxyContin aspect of the opioid addiction crisis. As thorough as possible, anyway, given that it was written soon after the dimensions of the crisis became obvious, and some of the leading lights in Purdue Pharma refused to be interviewed by him. (Now there's a shock.) This would be a good pl ...more
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written journalistic account of a perfectly predictable storm of addiction, crime, and tragedy that came out of ignored warnings about Oxycontin's addictiveness and easily bypasses slow-release mechanisms and rampant drug pushing by the company that made it. After the inevitable became evident, the company did all it could to stonewall any helpful actions by law enforcement or the people through their government via, in some instances, outright corruption. This is a tale of some o ...more
Tom Woodbery
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Solid and engaging for the most part by a NY Times journalist. It was written in 2003, before we understood the full scope of the opioid disaster, even though there were signs it would be bad. Focus is on Purdue Pharma and its leaders, several government regulators, and some small-town doctors and abuse counselors who tried to warn Purdue and Congressional committees that OxyContin was being abused. For a more recent book about the opioid crisis, I recommend "American Pain" by John Temple, writt ...more
Wendy C
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about OxyContin and the evil drug company that marketed the drug like it was a miracle pain cure with no side effects or risk of addiction. (Rush Limbaugh only being the most recent and high-profile victim proving that the drug has a darker side.) It's clear that Purdue, the drug's manufacturer, was aware of the dangers of abuse but continued to aggressively market it to doctors as a cure-all. Lots of people OD'ed and died. Why's it have to be small-town teens, and yet Rush lives on ...more
Jiny S
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative, interesting, and easy to read. This is detailed story of how OxyContin came to being in the United States. Purdue Pharma is the reason why healthcare should not mix with marketing. There are two contrasting viewpoints: the everyday people whose lives are destroyed by the drug, and the multi-billion dollar company that has no way of not construing the insidious effects of its product but still chose to turn a blind eye in the name of profit. The story weaves those two viewpoints ...more
Angie Lee
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well researched book that at times infuriated me. Never understanding that the "pain management" movement was really tied directly into the marketing of Oxy Cotin, this book infuriated me at the way big pharma lured many to become addicted with a precise strategic category and little care of the epidemic they caused.
Fate's Lady
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Tracing back the evil done by a greedy pharma company and the corruption of our medical and regulatory institutions that have allowed the opioid crisis to flourish in America. If this doesn't make you angry, I don't know what's wrong with you.
Jowanza Joseph
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
A really nice look into the origins of Oxycontin. Recommended for anyone interested in the epidemic of our time.
Anara Guard
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Groundbreaking work that brought much needed attention to how and why we are experiencing an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Packed with dates and quotes and detailed information about the history of Purdue Pharma and OxyContin. Educational but a dense read.
Wanda Keith
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must read for anyone wondering how powerful Big Pharma is in this world. In the late 1990's Purdue Pharma created a drug called Oxycontin. The writer of this book takes you back to the creation of a drug that would destroy hundreds of thousands of lives and continues to do so. What you will learn is that Purdue Pharma knew that this drug would be highly addictive and posed a threat to anyone unfortunate enough to take it. Instead of warning people of the dangers of this drug, Purd ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always loved reading books, but it's very rare that I get so engrossed into reading it that I finish it off in a day. One day, I was visiting a bookstore we frequent near home. I found this book laying on the lower part of a shelf and was drawn to it. I had seen so much news coverage and articles on the Opioid Crisis but never really knew enough about it to have a full picture. I picked it up (partially because of the interesting book cover - yes, I know I shouldn't judge a book by it's c ...more
Robert Pinto
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sobering read. This book tackles the origins of how Oxycontin came to be. Barry Meier explores how Oxycontin was developed from MS Contin which was a drug that was prescribed to pain patients in the 1980s. Pain Killer also explores the sordid history of the Sackler family and how they developed numerous addictive drugs starting with Valium and Librium in the 1960s and then moving on to powerful narcotics. The book details how Purdue Pharma was aware of the addictiveness of Oxycontin ba ...more
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Journalist, New York Times.
Author, Missing Man, The American Spy Who Vanished in Iran.
Pain Killer.
A World of Hurt, Fixing Pain Medicine's Biggest Mistake (e-book).
“Bodies were piling up too fast in some places for medical examiners and coroners to keep up. Morgues were filled to capacity, and corpses had to be stored for days in rented refrigerated tractor-trailers until space became available. Many of the dead were not autopsied. It is standard procedure in a drug-overdose case to conduct an autopsy. But even if medical examiners had had time to autopsy every victim, some stopped themselves from doing so. Professional groups that accredit medical examiners set a limit on the number of autopsies that a doctor can competently perform in a year, and examiners in areas with large numbers of overdose deaths would have exceeded that number and risked losing their accreditation. As a result, when overdose victims were discovered near hypodermic needles or pill bottles, they went straight to their graves, unexamined.” 0 likes
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