LOS ANGELES : New television series "Dopesick" aims to tell stories from the opioid epidemic still ravaging the rural United States, weaving together accounts from Purdue Pharma board members, prescription drugs salespeople, victims and government officials.
Based on the book by Beth Macy, the semi-fictional mini-series is produced by 20th Television and will air on Hulu starting Wednesday.
Michael Keaton plays a small town doctor cajoled into prescribing OxyContin, made by Purdue, to the miners in his town.
The actor said viewers will be engaged and enlightened by "Dopesick."
"People seemed to be, while they're watching it, realizing, 'Wait, this actually happened and is happening' and that's one of the really cool things about this particular series," Keaton said.
Originally intended as a feature film, creator Danny Strong felt there were too many untold stories to fit into a two-hour window and decided on a mini-series instead.
Kaitlyn Dever portrays Betsy, a member of the mining community who becomes addicted to opioids. She said she found the character to be one of the most difficult roles of her career.
"All of it was so important to me because I knew I was not only representing Betsy as a character and as a woman, but her character represents many victims and what they go through," Dever said.
More than 500,000 Americans have died since 1999 from opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Peter Sarsgaard plays an assistant U.S. attorney trying to put a stop to the addiction and the crime waves that follow.
"This is a case where it's really a matter of life and death because the interests of this company, which was to sell a drug which everybody knew was highly addictive and sell it in a way that made it seem benign, were protected over all (those) 500,000 people," he said.
(Reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Karishma Singh and Aurora Ellis)