PAIN HUSTLERS gives an eye-opening look at the opioid crisis, big Pharma’s extreme greed and negligence, as well as the grotesque capitalism that feeds the big pharma beast. While entertaining at times, PAIN HUSTLERS shows us an all too realistic insight as to how sheer desperation can light the fire to inspire or lead you on a downward spiral.
REVIEW: Pain Hustlers on Netflix
Upon losing her job, blue-collar worker Liza Drake struggles to raise her daughter and takes a job at a failing pharmaceutical start-up, only to get involved in a dangerous racketeering scheme.
You’ve never seen Emily Blunt or Chris Evans in roles like you will in PAIN HUSTLERS as Liza Drake and Pete Brenner. While unlike roles you’re used to seeing them in, they shine in their respective roles, as does supporting cast Catherine O’Hara, Andy Garcia, and Brian d’Arcy James.
The open nature of pharma reps gaming the system, bribing doctors through “speaker programs,” participating in and/or penning studies that only include some of the facts, and prescribing medications without truly knowing the risks or for off-label use has been going on for decades. It doesn’t always end up the way it does in PAIN HUSTLERS, but sometimes it does. And it’s one of the reasons for the opioid crisis in America.
While is PAIN HUSTLERS fictional, it is loosely based on a true story and it does incorporate some core elements of the book about the real-life saga of Insys Therapeutics and is inspired by Evan Hughes’ book “The Pain Hustlers: Crime and Punishment at an Opioid Startup” (formerly titled “The Hard Sell: Crime and Punishment at an Opioid Startup”).
While the actual characters are fictionalized, some details of PAIN HUSTLERS were so crazy you couldn’t make them up if you tried. Filmmakers pulled from the facts documented in Hughes’ article (and later, the book that expounded on his original New York Times article).
The scene where Brenner (Evans) does lines in the dressing room and then raps dressed as a pump? It’s based on a real video created by Insys Therapeutics.
There’s nothing so inspiring as sheer desperation.
About Pain Hustlers
Liza Drake (Emily Blunt) is a blue-collar single mom who has just lost her job and is at the end of her rope. A chance meeting with pharmaceutical sales rep Pete Brenner (Chris Evans) puts her on an upward trajectory economically but dubious path ethically as she becomes entangled in a dangerous racketeering scheme. Dealing with her increasingly unhinged boss (Andy Garcia), the worsening medical condition of her daughter (Chloe Coleman), and a growing awareness of the devastation the company is causing forces Liza to examine her choices. PAIN HUSTLERS is a sharp and revealing look at what some people do out of desperation and others do out of greed. The film is directed by Harry Potter director and BAFTA award winner David Yates, produced by Lawrence Grey, and also starring Catherine O’Hara, Jay Duplass, and Brian d’Arcy James.
Runtime: 122 mins
Director: David Yates
Producer: Lawrence Grey
Based on: “Pain Hustlers” by Evan Hughes
Cast: Emily Blunt, Chris Evans, Catherine O’Hara, Chloe Coleman, Jay Duplass, Brian d’Arcy James, Amit Shah, Andy Garcia
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