How did opioids become the center of one of the worst public health crises in U.S. history? That’s what the new HBO documentary The Crime of the Century aims to find out. Directed by Alex Gibney — who won three Emmys in 2015 for his thorough Scientology doc Going Clear and an Oscar for his 2008 look at the U.S. torture and interrogation techniques in Afghanistan, Taxi to the Dark SideThe Crime of the Century is a new two-part documentary that examines how Big Pharma, political operatives, and government regulations led to the opioid crisis claiming half a million lives in this century. Watch The Crime of the Century trailer below.

The Crime of the Century Trailer

Titling your documentary The Crime of the Century means that you have to deliver, and it looks like Gibney does with yet another hard-hitting exposé full of horrifying soundbites and revelations. The worst of which comes from Alec Burlakoff, the former VP of sales for Insys, a defunct opioid manufacturer, who at the beginning of the trailer, remorselessly says, “You can make a lot of money getting doctors to prescribe a medication to people who don’t need it. The doctor—he’s a businessman. I gotta show him the WIFM: what’s in it for me? …It’s about you prescribing the medication and me paying you as a direct result. Are you in or are you out?” All this over footage of pills, cash, and body bags.

Produced in association with The Washington Post, The Crime of the Century features interviews with medical professionals, insiders, and victims of opioid addiction. One of the first patients who was prescribed OxyContin, Gary Blinn describes how a Purdue Pharma representative told him to take as much OxyContin as he needed. “It would take me 15 minutes just to eat ‘em all,” Blinn says in the trailer. “It was like sitting down to a bowl of Cheerios.”

Gibney is no stranger to controversial topics, having tackled Scientology, U.S. torture in Afghanistan, and another corporate scandal, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which won him an Oscar nomination in 2006. And The Crime of the Century looks to be another doozy from him and HBO.

Here is the synopsis for The Crime of the Century:

The Crime of the Century, from Emmy and Academy Award winner Alex Gibney, is a searing indictment of Big Pharma and their responsibility for manufacturing the very crisis they profit from.

The Crime of the Century debuts on HBO on May 10, 2021.

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