Drugs are never going to be a non-controversial subject, are they?
The title of this documentary film gives you a fair indication of what you will be looking at during the next hour and a half. It’s a Michael Moore-esque look at the American establishment, focusing specifically on the evils of prescription drug companies.
The film’s creator, director and narrator is Mr Chris Bell, a man who himself has struggled with addiction to prescription drugs. Not only this but Bell reveals in the first fifteen minutes that his older brother, Mike, died of a prescription drug overdose merely a few years ago.
Make no mistake, this is a sad story. An attempt to instantly grab the viewer’s heartstrings and to gently nudge them towards the immediate conclusion that prescription drug abuse is a huge problem in American society.
And it works. To begin with.
Throughout the film we are continually introduced to ostensibly good people who have battled with prescription drug abuse. From ex-pro wrestlers to mothers of four young children, the scope of the problem is revealed and continually emphasised.
The viewer is hit with some pretty damning statistics, such as the fact that in ten years, the top eleven pharmaceutical companies in the world made $711 billion in profit. That’s not spin, that’s fact. The facts given throughout the film absolutely lend themselves to the story-tellers intention of allowing the viewer to see that there is something fundamentally wrong and worse, dangerous, with the American drug market.
However, after 45 minutes of sad tales and warnings I found myself wanting something different. What do the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have to say about this cautionary tale? We’re told that a spokesperson from the opposing side declined to comment, which is a shame as the film ultimately needed such a comment to offer some balance.
In my opinion, the one-sidedness almost took the creator’s argument full circle. Essentially the point being hammered home throughout the duration of the film was, “Don’t listen to the FDA’s propaganda, they’re not giving you the full story”. A point which was, as I have said, well made to an extent. I ended the film feeling that the creator(s) hadn’t offered me the full story either.
As a documentary on an issue as contemporary as drugs it certainly offers some interesting points. By no means a ground-breaking documentary, but it is absolutely a relevant one to today’s society.
Further information on prescription drug abuse is available from the National Institute on Drug Abuse here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/prescription-drugs-cold-medicines