What Is Real in Painkiller and Made Up

Dr. Curtis Wright and the FDA

Curtis Wright Painkiller Purdue FDA
Noah Harpster as Dr. Curtis Wright in Painkiller. Photo credit: Netfilx

To tell the story of how Oxycontin came to be prescribed so widely, it was necessary for Painkiller to cover Dr. Curtis Wright. He’s the person who gave Purdue FDA approval for Oxycontin — effectively letting doctors know that the government agency responsible for vetting the safety of drugs had given Oxycontin its seal of approval.

Dr. Wright is a real person, and he really did give OxyContin FDA approval, and later took a job with Purdue Pharma. While the scene of him surrounded by cheerleaders while swimming in a pool is obviously fictionalized, there are details of his story that are absolutely accurate.

In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty to falsely promoting OxyContin while understating the risk of addiction, including failing to make doctors aware that it was a more potent painkiller than morphine, according to ProPublica.

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