Prescription Thugs (2015) Movie Script

I'm Raymond Massey,
and I have a special message
for senior citizens.
Today's doctors, drugs
and medical devices
truly work medical miracles
for young and old alike,
but there are some as phony
as a $3 bill,
like this Zerret Applicator,
for example,
which has claimed to cure
arthritis with Z-rays.
There are no Z-rays.
Investigate before you invest
in health services or products.
Help stamp out quackery.
Welcome to the United States
of addiction.
We want everything big,
we want everything now,
and we don't want to work
for it.
In 2008 I made my first film,
"Bigger Stronger Faster,"
about my heroes and their dirty
little secret: steroids.
I mean, steroids were
for cheaters and losers,
and worse yet,
they kill you, right?
Well, actually no.
It turns out they won't kill
But what I didn't know then
was that there was another
skeleton in the closet
that was hidden from view,
a real danger lying
beneath the surface,
like Jaws waiting to strike.
The actor Heath Ledger
was found dead today
in an apartment
here in New York city.
Pop superstar Michael Jackson
is dead at the age of 50.
Suddenly my heroes started
to die, lots of them.
But it wasn't from steroids.
It was from drugs.
- The full extent of
- Michael Jackson's
dependence on prescription drugs
is splashed
across today's front pages.
And not the illegal kind,
like you would expect.
We haven't lost someone
to heroin in a while.
We've concluded that the manner
of death is accident,
resulting from the abuse
of prescription medications.
People were dying
from prescription drugs.
Prescription drug abuse
is killing more people
in this country
than car wrecks.
Legal drugs, the kinds
the doctors give us, you know,
the kindly old doctor
that used to be by your beside
when you had the mumps and
gave you all your flu shots?
The good guy, the one
looking out for our health.
Prosecutors say you didn't
need an appointment.
All you had to do was
send a doctor a text message
and open your wallet.
But these days,
the doctors are starting
to look more like drug dealers.
Dr. Verbovsky orchestrated
a scheme to trade prescriptions
for pills, in exchange
for sexual favors and money.
And if they're the dealers,
what does that make us,
the junkies?
Today a widespread fondness
for pharmaceuticals
has turned the US into a nation
of pill-poppers.
How many people
in this bitch pop pills?
- We only represent 5%
- of the world's population,
yet we consume 75% of the
world's prescription drugs.
We've got no business popping
as many pills as we do.
According to the federal
last year more than
six million Americans
used OxyContin
for recreational purposes.
In 2010,
254 million prescriptions
for opioids
were filled in this country.
That's enough painkillers
to medicate every American adult
around the clock
for a month.
I have never experienced
the kind of euphoria
that I got from a pain pill.
- We have drugs for everything.
- Hell, we even have drugs
for things that aren't
even diseases.
The first and only FDA approved
prescription treatment
for inadequate
or not enough lashes.
So, how do we get this way?
- Talk to your doctor.
- Ask your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor.
- Ask your doctor.
- Just talk to your doctor.
Every night on TV, you see
a weird-ass drug commercial
trying to get you hooked
on some legal shit,
and they just keep naming
symptoms till they get one
that you fucking got, okay?
It's like, are you sad?
Are you lonely?
You got athletes foot?
Are you hot, are you cold?
What you got? You want
this pill, huh, motherfucker?
You've got to take this pill!
Ask yourself... is it really
a war on drugs,
or are we just a nation
of prescription thugs?
Growing up in Pokipsy, New York,
my brothers and I
never even saw drugs.
My parents were kinda nerds.
They didn't even drink.
We practically
grew up in church.
Our parents always taught us
right from wrong.
We knew drugs were bad,
so we got into sports.
From an early age, my big
brother Mad Dog was my hero.
We always knew he was destined
for greatness,
so when he told us he was going
to wrestle for the WWE,
like our heroes the Hulkster
and the Warrior,
we believed
he'd finally made it.
The sky was the limit
for the Bell brothers,
and Mad Dog was leading
the charge.
But like most things in life,
the reality of the situation
wasn't that easy.
You see, he never really
got the big contract.
He wasn't ever allowed to win.
He was more like a carny
traveling alongside the circus.
He was feeder material,
a jobber.
Like most wrestlers,
Mad Dog was thrown out
of the ring and injured
and quickly found himself in
the jaws of a serious addiction
of Vicodin and other pain meds.
His wrestling career
took a dive,
and Mad Dog never quite
recovered from it.
It was his worst fear
to be average, a nobody.
Since "Bigger Stronger Faster,"
Mad Dog has been in and out
of rehab, wrestling
with a major addiction
to prescription pills.
He's decided that he's had
enough, so my father's
flying out to California
to see if he can help.
Hey, how you doin?
Hang on,
it's still locked.
What's been going on
with you, though,
that you had to have him
come out here?
Like, what in general's been
going on, drugs or...
Uh, no, not drugs.
No drugs at all?
- No.
- Honestly?
I came out 'cause Mike
asked me to come out,
try to help him out.
I don't know how long
he can keep going like this.
He was the one
that told me on camera
all the shit you were doing.
I had no idea.
And I was, like, shaking
when I interviewed him. What?
Why didn't he tell me that?
He tells me everything.
Usually people do drugs,
they just hide it and hide it
and hide it, and he's like,
not with me. He's like...
Well, the problem is
that I can't hide it
for too long of a time.
I can hide it for, depending
on the deal,
depending on
what the addiction is,
I can hide it for 3-6 months,
and then that's when things
start going
out of control again.
I've already kind of prepared
myself for that phone call
that Mike is dead some place,
you know, and I mean,
I've done all the crying.
I've had all the feelings.
I've been through all the
emotions and things like that,
and it doesn't mean
that when it happens,
or if it happens,
that I'm not going to be sad.
It just means that I have
done everything that I can,
and I'm still doing
everything that I can.
Well, he'll break down,
and he'll be crying,
and he'll say, like, you know,
"Dad, the biggest fear
I ever had in my life
was being an average guy."
But you have to be average
before you can be any better,
just like you have to crawl
before you can walk,
and you have to walk
before you can run.
He's stuck, you know.
He's stuck right there.
Mad Dog believes that
his addictions were fueled
by his lack of success,
but the closer he got
to the spotlight,
the bigger his problems became.
- When I looked my best,
- I was on...
Before, I used
a growth hormone a day.
I was on Cytomel every day.
I was on Sustanon
two or three times a week.
I was on Winstrol every day.
I was in Ephedra every day.
I was on Clenbuterol every day.
I was taking painkillers
to get rid of the pain
in my neck.
When you wrestled for WWE,
I mean, that's part of
not being the average Joe.
Like, you were on tour,
you were on TV.
I used to turn it on
at college and get all
my friends around the TV.
Like, "Ah, that's my brother!"
and were so proud of, like.
It's a high being
in front of 20,000 people
and getting a reaction.
I wasn't in front
of 20,000 too often,
but I was in front of
20,000 people a few times.
You walk out, and you're,
like, ready to kick ass,
and everybody starts cheering
for you, and it feels great.
And then you don't have that
anymore, and you're just
getting up, you're going
to work... eatin', sleepin',
Eatin', sleepin', workin'.
Eatin', sleepin', workin'.
One of my biggest problems is,
I don't know what
my dream is anymore.
My dream when I was a kid
was either to be some kind
of pro athlete.
Now I just don't know.
That's a huge part
of my problem,
is I don't know
where to focus my energy.
I've got a family that
loves me with all their heart.
I've got two brothers
that are my best friends.
I've got a father
that's my best friend.
I've got a mother that
loves me with all her heart.
I hurt you guys
all the time, you know?
Bell: Yeah.
'Cause I do stupid things.
I'm starting to realize
that you guys are much more
important than ever
in making it in any sport
or anything else.
How come you never
realized it before?
'Cause I was blinded
by my own bullshit.
Mike, um, has been close
to so many goals so many times,
and then he'll set
something else up as a goal
and try to attain that
but never quite makes it
and never actually
has any happiness
in doing what he's doing.
He had a big contract
if he was doing what
he thinks he wanted to do,
had the adulation
of the crowd all the time.
He'd be the guy
that's always in trouble.
He'd be the people
that are always blowing it.
He'd be the one that would be
in and out of rehab
and the newspapers
were following around.
But if I got a contract,
and I was anywhere between 21
and 35 even, I'm 36 now,
if I got a contract
in that 15 years
I was wrestling,
I would definitely be
another dead wrestler,
absolutely, positively 100%.
It was, like, 8:00 at night,
our time, and we got the call.
When I heard Daddy say,
"No, no, no, no..."
and, uh... so I said,
"Oh, don't tell me."
I thought that after 62 days
that Mike went off the wagon.
I never, ever thought
that Daddy was...
That's what she thought...
It was that bad.
And Daddy grabbed me,
and he said,
"Michael died," and I...
I still...
It was a shock.
The first thing I remember
when she said that he was dead
was what I said in the movie,
that I think they're going
to find him dead some day
because, barring a miracle,
there was no way out for him.
- After another relapse,
- Mad Dog crawled up the stairs
of a sober living facility
and was barely even able
to knock on the door.
A month later, he was sober.
Two months later, he was dead.
He looked so cool.
This is at Sundance.
This was, like, one
of his proudest moments.
This is him right here.
He's in the box.
I didn't understand how this
could happen to my brother.
We were the All-American
family. Where did we go wrong?
It was time I talked
to my younger brother Smelly.
Maybe he can help me
get some answers.
It was on a Sunday.
I talked to Mike on Friday.
He was saying, you know,
how he hates being sick.
He told me a time in his life
when he felt the best,
and it was a time
that he was in jail,
and he wasn't on anything,
and that was the only time
that he said he felt
somewhat normal as an adult.
Mad Dog's battle
wasn't necessarily
just with prescription drugs.
I think his battle
was more with himself.
I come from a family where
I am, in my family, the fixer.
Who's having a problem?
I have to fix it.
Here. Here's some food,
food to fix it.
Here, Mike. Here, Chris.
Here, Mark,
and food can fix it, or I
can fix it, or we can fix it.
Now this little boy
that you were trying to fix
is now taking drugs.
After we lost Mike,
I felt some solace
and comfort in the fact
that you and Mark
had not done drugs.
For me, I think, you know,
lifting has always kept me
on a certain path.
You don't even, like,
ever drink or anything.
You have really no addictive
behavior in that way, right?
- I won't take Advil.
- I won't take aspirin.
I do think that people
need to toughen up.
I don't think that everyone
is in such severe pain,
that they always need a drug.
Living day to day life
and dealing with
day to day stuff isn't fun.
It's not where it's at. You
want to be in an altered state,
and I think that was a big
thing that Mike dealt with.
He didn't want to deal
with reality.
Mad Dog always said, "I'd
rather be dead than average."
It was part of his
bigger than life persona.
How did he let drugs
take that away from him?
Was my brother's death
just another sad junkie story,
or were there other forces at
work that pushed him into it?
I had to find out.
Mad Dog's addictions
began in wrestling.
If I was gonna understand,
I needed to start with
the people that knew him best.
Ryan Sakoda was one
of Mad Dog's best pupils
before becoming a superstar
for the WWE and in Japan.
I never did prescription drugs
until I got to WWE,
and the only reason
why I did 'em
was because I wanted
to keep my job.
Like, when did you take
your first painkiller, like,
from a doctor?
Was it from a doctor?
I actually got it from a friend.
Another wrestler?
Another wrestler.
'Cause that wrestler
was also a doctor?
No, no, but he was...
He's a good friend.
- This is my friend
- Horshu.
He was one of the baddest
son-of-a-bitches in the WWE.
I love dogs, man.
Unlike Mad Dog, Horshu won most
of his battles in the ring,
but his battle outside the ring
nearly cost him his life.
You got to get rid
of the Red Bull, buddy.
And the cigarette.
Because we're going
to interview you.
You can't be sitting there
with a Red Bull and a cigarette.
You can't interview me
till I finish smoking.
Well, then, finish smoking.
I signed the contract
with WCW right out of college,
and then the money started
rolling in, and then
the pills came in 'cause
I was on the road every day.
You know, it's like, to graduate
to that next level, you
have to do certain things
that a lot of people
aren't willing to do.
How many pills a day
were you doing?
90. Five pills used to be
enough for the day.
Now it wasn't enough,
so I had to up it to 10.
10 pills eventually wasn't
enough, so I put it to 20.
I used to take 10 at a time
when I was doing 90 a day.
I remember my girlfriend,
she would lay out, you know,
5 Vicodin, 3 Somas,
2 Viagras, 2 Cialis,
you know, all my vitamins and
minerals, and it was just...
It was like a smorgasbord,
you know what I mean?
But I did that every day.
That was normal.
Viagra and Cialis
in the morning?
Yeah, just so I was ready.
Just in case.
Yup, just in case.
Did it ever occur to you,
like, "Hey, look,
I've got a problem.
I need to stop right now"?
No, I never really worried
about it, you know?
Listen, I thought
I was invincible.
What the fuck are pills
going to do to me,
you know what I mean?
I never thought about...
I never thought about dying,
you know what I mean?
They found me
floating in the pool.
So you blacked out
while you were swimming or...
So, I was floating,
and apparently someone
jumped in and saved me.
Wake up in an ambulance,
you know?
Uh, tubes up my nose.
I've got shit in my arms,
and I'm... I wake up,
and there was just...
All I could see
was just this light.
You would think
after something like that,
that that would be it.
Uh... but, no.
December 28th of 2009 was
the last time I did pills
because that's the day
I had a stroke.
I didn't even know
I had a stroke
because I had it in my sleep,
and I was on so many OxyContins
and Vicodin and Soma,
you know what I mean?
You could've shot me;
I wouldn't have felt it.
Look, when I was laying
there on the sofa,
I was laying there
for two days. They said,
"He's not gonna make it
through the night.
You need to call his mother,
get her out here,
so she can say her goodbyes,"
you know what I mean?
I didn't go through
one minute of withdrawals.
And what they found out...
They did a CAT scan
on my brain later.
The CAT scan showed
that the part of my brain
that was killed
was the part that harbored
the addictions.
And then you had to
relearn everything, right?
I had to relearn everything.
How to write...
How to write,
how to read, how to walk.
But now you're back
smoking again,
drinking Red Bulls again.
Yup. Yup.
Do you think you still have
an addictive personality?
Oh, listen, there's
no doubt I'm an addict.
That's for sure.
You know what I mean?
I'll be an addict
till the day I die.
Aspired to be a wrestler,
never aspired to be
a drug addict. That's what
my brother used to say.
You know, I'm actually
ashamed to admit this to you,
but I actually gave...
I remember, uh...
You know, Mad Dog asked me.
I gave him some shit, you know?
Uh... I think all
you guys did, though.
I think it's...
It's nobody's fault,
you know what I mean?
Everybody's responsible
for their own...
What they do, you know?
I forgive you.
Thank you.
My brother would be able
to hang out with Razor Ramon,
Jake "The Snake"
and all these guys
because my brother was
the guy with the pills.
Now, he never won a match
in WWE history, not one.
He was on TV 250 times.
He lost 250 times.
He was a jobber. He was
the guy that they'd beat up,
but he was the guy they'd
beat up that had the pills,
so they kept...
"Hey, hire Mike Bell.
Hey, hire Mike Bell."
I mean, back then
it was like an open forum,
you know?
Do I blame wrestling for that?
Like, no,
I don't blame wrestling.
I think it goes in the NFL.
I think it goes on in the UFC.
I think it goes on in baseball.
I think it goes on in sports.
I think it
goes on in high schools.
It goes on everywhere.
My brother, in "Bigger
Stronger Faster," says,
if I only would've made it,
everything would've changed.
How do you feel about that?
I think it's a joke.
My buddy Jeff knows
about success.
He got a scholarship
to an Ivy League school
and went on to play in the NFL.
The grass is always
greener, you know?
If you can say, "but if only,"
it's comfortable for people
to do that, but you know,
when you get to the other
side of it,
and you have those material
goods, and you have the things
you thought you wanted, you
know, those boxes are checked.
That's when some real
soul-searching happens.
Chris Leben climbed the ranks
of the UFC and achieved
the fame and fortune
that Mad Dog dreamed of,
but the fight
with his own demons
proved to be more
than he could handle.
My motto was: Everything in
excess, nothing in moderation.
Go fast, kick ass, chug beers,
crank tunes, you know.
Just, like, in full speed ahead.
I would drink and party
and stuff, you know. When
I first started with the UFC,
and people were,
like, "Oh my God, look.
Chris Leben's
out drinking,
and he's got a fight coming
up," da, da, da.
Well, I figured out that
I could still take the edge off
by taking a pill,
and nobody would know.
What I realized is that
it worked not only for my pain
but for me, for my anxiety,
and it mellowed me out.
Where you're in a position
of perceived power or class
in the society,
you can get whatever you want.
The funniest thing for me
was when I got to the NFL,
and I had more disposable income
than I ever had in my life,
everyone wanted
to give me things.
I was, like, this is
so backwards.
Including drugs.
Including drugs.
I mean, I was a kid
that didn't come
from a lot, you know?
Now I'm somebody.
Being somebody,
I didn't ever feel like
I was worthy to be somebody.
Now all of a sudden girls
in particular that I know
weren't interested in me,
were starting to act
like they were interested
in me. I'm going, hang on.
They only want to be with me,
so they can hang out
with the UFC fighter
Chris Leben.
I allowed those things
to really drag me down
into a pretty dark spot,
and for me,
pills were the way
out of that dark spot.
I'm the golden child.
I'm an Ivy League-educated
NFL football player,
and I'm a drug addict.
I mean, I have my big counter
on my wall, and I'd be,
"Okay, today I'm going
to take five pills."
5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3.
Now I switch to Perco...
I had it all written out.
I had a big plate...
And how I would get down,
spend a few days on the bathroom
floor, puking, da, da, da.
Go in, perform, make my money,
so I can keep doing it.
It got to the place where
I was waking up on my couch,
covered in piss, not knowing
what time of day it was,
what day it was, and when I
would wake up covered in piss,
I would just take more drugs
and pass back out.
Did you ever do anything,
like, you're really
embarrassed about
when you were on pills?
My whole life, man.
I got sick when
I fought Brian Stann.
I told everybody it was sugar.
Nobody, nobody, knows this.
I was backstage, diarrhea-ing,
vomiting between my legs,
and they're calling,
"Chris Leben out to fight!
Here you go! Let's go,
Chris, let's go!"
I stepped into the
fucking cage like that.
I see both sides of the issue.
You know, one side I see that...
You know, honestly, those
painkillers enabled me to play
for as long as I did
because they killed a pain
that otherwise I couldn't
even bend down to tie my shoes.
Um, but they also
created a monster.
I could tell you stories
about guys that in particular,
you know, OxyContin,
that used to do heroin
and quit doing heroin
to take OxyContin
because it's better!
I mean, and it feels
the fucking same to me,
feels the same, and look,
if I can think about heroin,
you think about how horrible
and terrible of a drug it is
and where you're going
to end up if you start that,
OxyContin feels exactly
the fucking same,
but it's not.
It's wrapped up in
a little blue pill,
comes in a bottle with
a prescription label on it,
with your name on it,
says "Take two of these,"
whatever, you know?
So, wait a second.
The drugs that the doctors
are giving us
are the same as the drugs
being sold on the streets?
Well, if you look at the
chemical makeup of opiates
like codeine, OxyContin,
Vicodin and morphine,
they are all directly
or synthetically derived
from the unripe seed pods
of the opium poppy.
Guess what else is made
from the opium poppy.
Heroin, that's right,
good old H,
and it's not just the opiates
that share a common source
with their street brothers.
Take Adderall and Ritalin,
which are made from
the same stuff as meth.
So, basically those pills that
you have your children popping
are street-legal meth.
Man, Heisenberg could've
saved himself a load of trouble
if he just opened a pill mill.
You're goddamn right.
- But hold on a second. Punky
- Brewster told me drugs are bad.
Drugs are bad for you.
Grow up.
Illegal drugs are bad news.
Don't mess with them.
We must wage what I have called
total war against public enemy
1 in the United States,
the problem of dangerous drugs.
In 1971, then President and
huge Elvis fan Richard Nixon
began the war on drugs.
Since then, the war on drugs
has cost the US over
one trillion dollars,
and the prison population
has risen over 700%.
Sounds like we're winning.
So, I get it:
Drugs are bad, and the people
who use drugs are bad guys
and criminals, like
Tony Montana, but Mad Dog
and his friends weren't even
talking about illegal drugs.
They were talking about legal
drugs, prescription drugs,
the kind you keep
in your medicine cabinet.
There may be a drug addict
in your house, and you may be
their supplier.
Federal authorities
call it an epidemic.
When you think of drug addicts,
you don't think of
a housewife with four kids.
No, but we're everywhere.
You know?
You know other people like you?
There's lots of us.
Everyone's affected
by this epidemic,
like Betsey Degree.
She's a housewife
from Minnesota.
When her daughter was
prescribed Adderall,
Betsey turned to the medicine
cabinet to solve her troubles.
I ended up, you know,
taking one,
and then taking two,
and then taking all of them,
and then I just started
telling her
that she didn't have ADHD
and took it all from her.
Yup, I took it from my daughter.
When my daughter did take it...
This is how I justified it...
When she did take it,
She might have been able
to focus more in school,
but it took the joy from her,
so I kind of felt like...
I justified it, like, well,
it really isn't good for her.
And every time I'd get it
refilled, I'd say,
"I'm not going to do it
this time," you know?
And I always did.
Everywhere I go,
the story's still the same,
like my friend Colby from
the gym, and he's just a kid.
When I was 15 I shattered
my femur bone in four places.
Basically they put me
on opiates from that point,
and it just escalated
with the dose strengths.
And how old were you
at this time?
I started at 15.
Do you think there's a problem
with kids in high school
and stuff doing
prescription drugs?
Oh, yeah. Definitely.
I think it's so accessible,
and you're not really
taught about it in DARE
or in all these other
programs, you know.
It's always about marijuana,
or it's about cocaine.
This is crack.
We grew up in the generation
of, like, "Just say no"
and "Drugs are bad."
Has that ever sunk in?
Nope, that never sunk in.
All that did
was create shame for people
who couldn't, you know?
This is your brain on drugs.
Any questions?
There's a stigma around it, too,
that we made this choice
to just be drug addicts,
you know.
Anybody can
get addicted to these.
Like I said,
I was an innocent...
I'm not innocent, but I was
16 years old, you know?
It wasn't like
I was seeking opiates.
Prescription drugs
aren't just hurting
the people taking them either.
They're destroying families,
like my friend Dustin.
His own addictions
almost cost him his son.
- The stupidest thing
- I ever did, eating Percocet,
was raise kids because
there was lots of conversations
that I should've had
that I didn't have.
My son was 16 years old,
2011 December 19th,
and he got ran over by a car.
Lots of things came to light.
Okay, he was high.
I didn't realize
he was doing it
'cause I was high, okay?
That moment in my life
was a huge wake-up call.
It was
a spiritual awakening,
nothing short of it,
because I sat there
in the hospital,
and I was just like, this...
You know what I mean?
This... I in a way
caused this to happen
because I was okay
with so many things.
Who taught you
how to do this stuff?
You, all right?
I learned it by watching you!
Another factor is, like,
I kind of came from a family
of addicts in a sense,
too, which I also think
is a very big thing with
why it's so easy for teens
to abuse pain medications
because, you know, well,
we come from addicts, you know.
That's kind of like
the human condition,
is that we're kind of
born to be addicted to things.
Why do you think
people in America
are so easy to just pop a pill?
Well, it's just because
all of us do.
I mean, it's just like
you follow the flock, man.
No one ever said,
"Well you shouldn't do
the prescription drugs
that the doctor said
you can take."
That's just a scary
situation all the way around.
I mean,
how many people are running
around on this planet
hyped up on pain pills
'cause their doctor told them
they can be?
That are completely checked out,
on autopilot,
raising children,
running businesses,
flying airplanes,
you know what I mean?
And you wouldn't even know.
You would never know it,
and it's okay
'cause they have a hall pass,
you know what I'm saying?
They're not drinking whiskey.
They're not doing illegal drugs.
Their doctor said, "Here you go.
Take these three times a day,"
you know? And lots of people
will start to abuse them
beyond that, but they've
got that little hall pass,
that little pill bottle
with their name on it.
They can take it anywhere
in hell all the time.
You can get pills anywhere.
I never ran out of pills.
Look, I would go to CVS
with these prescriptions,
Walgreen's with
these prescriptions,
Rite Aid with
these prescriptions,
a mom & pop's pharmacy
with these prescriptions,
you know what I mean?
I was driving around all day
getting pills filled,
you know what I mean?
I had one that was 78 doctors
in the last 12 months.
78 different physicians
ordered controlled substances
for this person.
So, they're just dri...
I mean, they're putting on
hundreds of miles a day
going to clinics.
The circle just keeps getting
bigger and bigger and bigger.
I got a bad knee right now.
I know what it feels like
every day, and I see him
prancing in here like...
You know, but they're on...
But yet the doctor's ordered
240 oxycodone tablets for him.
I mean, okay, you're either
really well-pain-managed,
or you have little or no pain,
and you're just getting
a prescription.
Well, I mean, you know,
I think a hydrocodone-Tylenol
combinations, you know,
in whatever strength you want,
all the different
Vicodin strengths, you know,
that's probably the one that's
the most, and then the oxy,
oxycodone, OxyContin.
Just that whole group
of medication prescribing,
I mean, in my 25 years
of practicing
it's gone up dramatically.
It's amazing.
I mean, if we did
a handful a day years ago,
and now it's a handful an hour.
When they stopped
making the OxyContin
in the crushable form,
where you could shoot it
and snort it and smoke it,
when they got rid of that,
there OxyContin
lost 80% of its revenue.
80%, so what does that
tell you right there?
It tells you that people
are over-prescribing OxyContin
and overusing it.
By how much?
By 80%.
Thank you.
- This is Richard Taite.
- He runs Cliffside Malibu,
one of the most successful
rehab facilities in California.
There could not be
a more clear statistic.
80% of the people using
that drug are using it
in a way that
it is not intended.
So, now the question is, is...
Are 80% of the doctors in on it?
- So, it's like Shakedown Street.
- You go see your doctor.
You talk to him
about the football game,
about everything else that
happened during the month
you didn't see him,
except for your health.
He writes you the script
and charges you $120,
and you're on your way
to Costco or Sam's Club.
You have something called
addictionologists, or doctors.
You don't even know...
the average lay person
doesn't even know.
What happens is they get
literally about 1,000 people
at a time paying $500 a pop
to come in and fill out
their prescriptions
once a month,
and the doctors keep them sick.
Well, you do the math.
1,000 times 500
is $500,000 a month.
That's $6 million a year.
These doctors are profiting
by keeping you sick.
I've got the answer right here,
ladies and gentlemen,
to everything that ails you.
Now step right up.
Despite taking an oath
to preserve our health,
these doctors seem
to be more concerned
with profit than healing.
I think that there's a small
number of bad actors
that just have
no conscience whatsoever,
but some of these people
just don't know better.
They just don't have
the education.
I think a whole generation
of doctors grew up
really not recognizing
how dangerous these drugs are.
I can tell you that
when I went to medical school,
we had one lecture on pain,
and in that one lecture
we were told
if a patient has pain,
and you give them an opiate,
they will not get addicted.
Totally wrong,
and yet that's what I learned
when I became a doctor.
That's what a whole generation
of doctors learned.
It's a fine line because
I can't say what your pain is.
Who am I to sit here and
tell you, "No, you don't."
We're gonna go
back and forth on that one.
Again, there's the rub.
Should we do away
with pain medicines?
That's ridiculous!
No, 'cause it's very valuable
to not have to suffer
through pain.
How do I know that your lumbar
spine isn't out of whack,
and that's why you're always
having this chronic pain?
And what do we do about it?
I mean, I think you're probably
going to find there aren't
a lot of easy answers.
They say the hardest part
of addiction
is admitting you have a problem,
so maybe it's about time
to come clean
about my own addictions.
You see, the truth was
Mad Dog wasn't
the only Bell brother
that was popping too many pills.
This is my Dodge Durango.
I've had this since 2006, I think.
You can see here,
I had a little fender bender.
This was from Vicodin.
I pulled into a spot.
I wasn't paying attention
'cause I was all out of my mind.
This is the worst over here.
You see, like, the headlight
will even come out.
This whole dent right here,
I was taking Klonopin
and I was taking hydrocodone,
and a lot of them, and Percocet.
I fell asleep, and I smashed
my car into three other cars.
And then this is real fun
when you try to go on a date.
And the date opens the door,
and that's what she hears.
Um, insurance doesn't
like to pay for things
when you're fucked up either.
Like, it's hard to tell them,
you know, "Hey, I was on
a bunch of prescription drugs,
and I went off the road."
It's embarrassing, you know?
I had a nice car.
It was a brand-new car,
and it was nice,
and now it's a piece of shit.
For me, I had the hip
replacement surgery,
and they gave me, you know,
a bunch of pills to get better,
and then it got
to a point where I probably
didn't need them,
but I was still in pain
because they did both hips
at the same time.
One hip failed,
but they didn't know it.
It just got to a point
where I was spending
probably $500 a week
on prescription drugs.
You know, like just
buying them off
of people on the street
because I needed it,
because I was so...
I got to the point where
I was so highly addicted.
How do I tell my parents
that just lost their first son
that, like,
"Hey, I'm addicted to drugs,
and I can't get off
of them?"
You could've told me
because, to me,
I wouldn't have thought,
oh, here we just lost Mike.
Now we're gonna lose Chris.
Okay, there's a big difference
in being addicted
because you have pain,
and you're trying
to overcome the pain,
and the difference in Mike,
where he was, like,
always trying to get high.
But I think it starts with pain,
and then it turns
into like an addiction,
where you sort of just like
the feeling of being loopy.
I didn't know that...
I'm so sorry
that you had that trouble,
but, um, I'm not sure if...
But you guys are also
the reason I stopped
doing it,
so you can't be sorry.
In the back of my mind,
I'm like, I've got
to do this for my family.
Well, really, you have
to do it for yourself.
Until you're ready in here,
you're not going
to accomplish anything.
When we were young,
did you ever think
that any of your kids
would grow up and have
a drug problem
or become a drug addict
like Mike and I did?
A drug addict?
And I'm just...
You know, I guess
this is what you call it now
if you take prescription...
I'm just looking at it
differently as it was then.
It's weird. I never did,
you know, illegal drugs.
I did prescription drugs
When Mike died, I was,
like, sort of, you know...
At first, I was, like,
"Oh, my God. This is crazy.
I need to get off these pills.
I need to stop
living my life this way.
I need to go back
to what I was doing,"
and then I just got worse.
I went to a doctor
and said I couldn't focus.
She didn't run any tests.
She didn't do anything.
She just said, "Oh, okay.
Why don't you
try Adderall?"
You know? And then
that same doctor, you know,
'cause I was coming off
the opiates,
had me on Suboxone,
had me on Klonopin
and Adderall,
because of all those effects,
even prescribed me Viagra.
I didn't need Viagra,
but next time she prescribed
Were you even
dating anybody, or...
I mean, it's not like
you were married and having...
No, I was dating somebody,
yeah, at the time.
Viagra was like,
"I'll take it 'cause it's fun."
Like, I'll take it
not because, you know...
Not because I need it.
Let me just try this
and see if it works,
and then if it works...
Works on what?
Um, whatever, like,
does it make you feel better?
Does it give you pleasure?
Does it get you high?
Does it get you to make you
happy? Does it make you,
you know, not as sad?
Just because a doctor
gave it to me, you know,
the doctor could be just...
Sometimes the doctors are
just as bad as the drug dealers
on the street. That's why
there's thugs on every level.
It all comes down to money
in the United States, you know.
In this country,
if you follow the money,
you're going to come
to the answer
to most of what
the problems are.
Well, the love of money
is the root of all evil.
The love of it
and not having it.
I like having it,
don't have the love of it.
The real story
that needs to be told here
is, you know, how these
pharmaceutical companies...
They produce all these pills,
you know what I mean?
And they flood
the market with them.
Look, all those guys,
the pharmaceutical companies,
the doctors,
the people that sell it,
they're all drug dealers.
That's the bottom line.
They're all drug dealers.
It's all about money,
that's all it is.
Look, this whole world
centers around money,
you know what I mean?
It takes money.
And for Big Pharma,
money is good.
Their senior executive
with pharmaceutical giant
had a pep rally in Las Vegas
for their sales team.
There are people in this room
who are going to make
an ungodly sum of money.
Who wants to be a millionaire?
In the past 10 years,
the 11 largest drug companies
made $711 billion.
$711 billion?
If we were looking
for a bad guy,
sounds like
we may have found our man.
The pharmaceutical industry
remains the most profitable
business in the US.
More success and financial gain
for the companies will always
remain possible,
as long as more Americans
are encouraged to take drugs.
have always been around,
from the apothecary
of the Middle Ages
to the snake oil salesmen
of the Wild West.
All he wants
is a miracle, folks!
How can I deny him?
If he's willing to pay for it.
He's going to get it.
Any price.
There have always been sellers
of potions and tinctures,
with the promise of miracle
cures and remedies,
and most of them
were far from helpful.
So, to protect us from these
scam artists and charlatans,
we created agencies like the FDA
and required
pharmaceutical companies
to work under strict
but that cut into their ability
to make drugs for profit,
and that's not American.
Those regulations were getting
in the way of big business,
and Pharma needed a hero.
Enter everyone's favorite
president and big business
poster child, Ronald Reagan.
The only way to stop abusing
them is to stop using them.
While Nancy Reagan
was waging her war on drugs,
Ronnie and his administration
were lifting a moratorium
on advertising to consumers.
You know, for freedom.
Big Pharma was born.
Drug companies were now ready
to take on the American public,
and Reagan had given 'em access
to the big guns:
direct to consumer marketing,
and in 1997 everyone's favorite
saxophone-wielding president
Bill Clinton
and his administration
loosened up the regulations
even further,
making us one of only two
countries in the entire world
that think that advertising
to consumers is a good idea.
I mean, I have to say this was
the advertising and marketing
coup of the century.
You couldn't do that before.
This is
my friend Dr. Garber.
In 1997, he became the first
person in the United States
to receive a PhD in homeopathy.
I mean, the fact that
you can present a problem
to an audience as big
as a TV audience and say,
"Ask your doctor if such
and such is right for you,"
Wow! I'll ask my doctor.
So I go to my doctor.
Lo and behold, because the rep
from the company was just there
with a truckload of samples,
he goes, "Well, gee, let's see."
He opens up the drawer, gives
the person like a month's worth
of samples, just, they're free,
and then there goes
the prescription writing,
and then that's it forever.
So I get it. You give 'em
the first taste for free,
and then they're hooked.
We tried to talk to a bunch
of people from various pharma
companies, but they didn't seem
to want anything to do with us,
so I talked to Gwen Olsen.
She was a pharma rep
for 15 years
and wrote the book "Confessions
of an Rx Drug Pusher."
I knew at some point
that was what my job was.
I was a drug pusher.
I was just doing it legally
and with the...
You know, being condoned
by society,
and when people would say,
"Well, you sell drugs,"
then I would always say,
"Oh, yes, ethical
pharmaceuticals," as if.
I've never seen
a commercial for OxyContin.
I've never seen one
for Vicodin, and...
They don't need them.
The drugs sell themselves.
So, why do they advertise
the other types of drugs?
Because they have to get
the consumer to believe
that they need them.
Hey, Pete.
Yeah, it's me, big brother.
Put the remote down and listen.
This intervention,
brought to you by Niaspan.
So, you cut back
on the cheeseburgers
and stopped using your exercise
bike as a coat rack.
That's it? You're done?
I don't think so.
If there was a panacea that
came onto the market tomorrow,
do you believe that they'd
have to spend hundreds
of millions of dollars
in advertising on prime time TV
for the rest of the world
to know about it?
It would be word of mouth.
People would know about it
in a heartbeat.
Women who take Lipitor
or the other statin drugs
for cholesterol have approaching
a 50% greater chance
of developing diabetes,
according to this study.
Well, what about
all these statin drugs?
Like, they're, you know,
saving people's lives.
We need statin drugs.
Statin drugs are
one of the biggest...
I call it a big fat lie
because that's what
the cholesterol lie is.
The sickest people I've ever
seen in my 32 years of practice
were people whose
cholesterol was too low.
Without enough cholesterol
in your system,
your immune system
can't work properly.
All the long-term data
on the statins show
that you will die sooner
if your cholesterol is lower,
particularly if you're over 55,
if you're female or male.
There is no benefit
to the drugs.
I'm not saying that
there aren't some individuals
who should monitor
their cholesterol
because of the risk factor,
There are other means
of lowering cholesterol,
besides taking the toxic drugs
that the statins are.
This is a very ingenious
marketing plan.
What is one
of the major side effects
of cholesterol-lowering drugs?
Do you happen to know?
Impotence is one of the things
that's complained about
most frequently for men
that are on cholesterol drugs.
Well, guess what the same
manufacturer's 2-selling drug
is that makes Lipitor?
Viagra! Hey! Now we've got
a patient population
that we can sell
our next drug to.
Every time
I take something,
I always feel weird,
and then
somebody will say,
a doctor will say,
"Well, for the weirdness
you're feeling
by taking something,
take something else."
And the next thing you know,
I'm taking nine things.
Okay. Okay,
you're going to wind up
like Anna Nicole Smith.
Like, there was a point in time
when I had my hip surgery.
I just got so conditioned
to, like, taking a pill,
that when the next thing came
up, like, oh, these painkillers
are causing me anxiety,
so then I need the Xanax,
and I can't sleep,
so you need the Ambien.
And you can't focus,
so you need the Adderall,
and then, like, I was...
I had like probably
ten prescription bottles
you know, in my cabinet.
That's causing this problem,
so take this, and that's causing
this problem, so take this,
and then before you know it,
you do have ten prescription
bottles on your...
Because of one problem.
Why take it if you don't
need it, you know?
A lot of people
have this misconception
that the pharmaceutical
industry is altruistic,
and they're philanthropists
and that they're looking
to heal the world.
There couldn't be anything
further from the truth.
The pharmaceutical industry is...
Their vested interest is in
making their stockholders money
because the pharmaceutical
industry isn't in the business
of health and healing.
It's in the business
of disease management
and symptoms maintenance.
Big Pharma has a economic
incentive to classify things,
so that they can create pills
for them, right?
Do you know what
restless leg syndrome was?
I didn't.
Neither did I.
Uh, I'm so sorry!
Oh! Oh!
It's my restless leg syndrome!
You know, they're sitting there
because they drank
six cups of coffee today,
and they've got
all these refined
and sugars running through
their body, and they're
looking down and going,
"Yeah, that's what I've got,
restless leg syndrome.
Let me go get a prescription
for that."
And I mean,
there the indoctrination
goes right in.
75% of the time,
statistics say that if they go
in and request a drug,
the doctor will give it to them
because the doctor
considers it his business,
and they're his customer.
That's the problem
with the advertising,
the Big Pharma
advertising campaign.
What they tell you is,
"Whatever your symptom is,
we've got a pill
for it." Okay?
But that's not the way
the world works, okay?
You actually have to be a human
being and feel your feelings.
If your brother dies, okay,
you can expect to feel sad.
Feeling your feelings is hard,
but lucky for us,
Big Pharma has a solution:
psych meds.
Finally, we have the perfect
pill that promises
to take away
all of our bad feelings
and replace them with sunshine
and little happy trees.
With all these scenes of trees
and green grass
and convertible cars
and pillow clouds in the sky,
if life is like that when
you're on the purple pill,
give me some purple pills!
In 2001, the first Zoloft ads
hit the airwaves,
and we finally discovered
that we were suffering
from depression.
America had a sickness,
and depression was its name.
Suddenly the market was flooded
with a tsunami
of new psych meds.
Now one in every ten Americans
are on antidepressants,
including our dogs.
- - Doggie Prozac,
a beef-flavored version
of the well-known human
- This little guy?
- This is Radar.
He belongs to
a friend of mine, Ryan,
who goes to my brother's gym.
Radar's been feeling
a little down lately,
so Ryan took him to the doctor.
So, we talked to the vet,
and she finally...
She prescribed him Prozac.
It's like a doggie-specific
It's little
8-milligram tablets
that come, like, flavored
and smell like a treat.
Have you ever taken
any prescription drugs?
Uh, I was on Zoloft
for three months,
about six years ago
at this point.
And why did you quit taking it?
I just hated it.
It turned me into a zombie.
And you don't fear that
for your dog?
I mean, I do.
Like, this is kind of...
Like, I was on Prozac
for three months.
I fucking hated it,
but I'm gonna give
the same shit to him.
Yeah, I mean,
that's a good point.
There's been a huge change
in the nature
of how people think of
as being illnesses.
Doctor and author David Healy
is one of the most outspoken
critics of antidepressants,
especially SSRls.
Every disease can be oversold.
One of the ones
being oversold at the moment,
even though it's a real illness,
is bipolar disorder.
It's a rare condition.
It's become,
in the last 10 or 15 years,
5,000 times more common
than it was before.
Ever since they were introduced
first in the late 1950s,
it's been recognized back then
that antidepressants
don't suit all people.
If you're on an antidepressant
that doesn't suit you,
it can make you suicidal,
and it can also
make you homicidal.
This can happen to you,
even if you're a healthy
taking these pills.
It's not something
linked to the illness.
It's a thing caused by the pill
and the fact that the pill
is the wrong pill for you.
When drugs worked
for tuberculosis,
tuberculosis vanished.
When drugs supposedly
worked for depression,
or bipolar disorder these days,
the illness doesn't vanish.
It gets incredibly more common.
Where the right kind of
treatment can help save a life
and save a career
and save a marriage,
all too often it's a condition
that doesn't need treatment
and where treatment can
cause you to lose your life
and lose your marriage
and lose your career.
That's a
billion-dollar industry.
Exactly, and they're not
going to give it up easily
because there is no medical
scientific evidence required
to diagnose someone
to take a psychiatric drug,
so it is the most lucrative,
cooperative, collusive effort
that there is between allopathic
healers and psychiatry.
We've been sold the idea
that these things work,
that if you put your kids
on Ritalin, they'll do better
at school.
If you're at work,
and you're taking
an antidepressant,
you'll do better at work.
It seems rational to take them.
It's not that we're irrational;
we're trying to be rational,
and we've been sold
a bag of goods.
People think that because
it's prescribed by a doctor,
it's safe, and it's approved
by the FDA, so it's safe.
I mean, these are
illusory impressions
that the public has,
and it's not true.
To get a drug approved,
a company only has to submit
two positive studies to the FDA
showing that the drugs
worked better than a placebo...
Not better than another drug
already on the market,
just better than a fake pill.
Then to make things easier
on Pharma, they get to pick
and choose
which studies they submit,
meaning they could have
48 studies that say
a drug is terrible
and causes half the people
who take it to grow tails...
Well, you did it again.
Gee, what a mess.
But as long as they produce
two positive studies,
the FDA approves the drugs,
and we get another bottle
on our shelves.
Very frequently,
companies would come,
and they'd throw down millions
of dollars and say,
"Run it until you get
this result."
- And what happens to the other
- 48 bad studies?
They get filed away
with the Ark of the Covenant
in that warehouse
from "Indiana Jones."
The value in drugs these days
depends on companies
being able to hide the data
and conjure up the idea
that these drugs are worth more
than they actually are.
The research I do,
which is the comparative
effectiveness in drugs,
has always been left to
the pharma companies to do.
The federal government
doesn't fund that.
Now there are a lot
of consulting firms
that will come in and do
the same kind of research.
I call them "Results 'R Us."
You tell me what you want
to know,
and I'll manipulate
the data to find it.
When it comes to publication,
a lot of times, you know,
a negative result
or an indifferent result
isn't published.
I guess you could call it
publication bias.
Even the journals,
"New England Journal
of Medicine"
or "JAMA," etc. they know.
You're basically saying,
Oh, we didn't like the big
study, and this new drug,
everything's wonderful
and had no effect.
But isn't that dangerous
to people taking it
if they don't know
the information?
Under the influence
of control trials,
believing that's the best
kind of evidence,
doctors stopped
listening to patients
and looking at patients
and going by what they saw
right in front of their eyes.
They looked away
from the patient and looked
at the scientific evidence
What they they thought
they were seeing were articles
by reputable academics
in the best journals
in the field,
but what they were
actually looking at
was ghost-written articles
and that no one had any access
to the underlying clinical
trials behind these articles.
So, the companies could say
whatever they want.
I started to recognize
that I wasn't getting
the full picture.
The information was
being presented to me
through rose-colored glasses,
so that I would present it
to physicians
through rose-colored glasses.
I was being encouraged
to misinform people,
and if I was misinforming
that meant doctors were
misinforming their patients.
So, there was
no informed consent taking
place in the medical arena.
A new report raises serious
questions about the safety
of prescription drugs
in this country.
More than ever, medications
that are supposed
to help people are instead
making them sick, and in
some cases even killing them.
Anybody who has a guaranteed
insurance reimbursement
will be a victim
of these things.
Three out of ten older people
are taking at least
five prescription drugs
multiple times a day.
Now, I asked our expert
why this is happening.
Tonight I'm told they just
don't know any better.
I don't care
if you're a foster child,
if you are an elderly person
that has Medicare,
if you are an indigent person
that has Medicaid.
All the people who take
a group of drugs
used to treat conditions
including asthma,
depression, and epilepsy
may have an increased risk
of dementia and even death.
If you are someone
that they can be guaranteed,
has a government job that you're
going to get reimbursement,
you're going to get put
on one of these drugs
because that means
a refill every month,
and that is a compliant patient,
and they're going to get more
money in the till down the road.
Those are the patients
Pharma loves,
and if they can get
your kids, wow.
Then they've got
a lifelong customer.
Mom, I want an allergy medicine
that won't make me drowsy.
Children's Claritin Chewables!
Your child may be taking
what is called
the most abused drug in America,
and you may be
completely unaware
of how dangerous it can be.
It's true... Adderall
has been named
as the most abused
and overused legal drug.
Adderall has become
the new gateway drug for kids.
According to the DEA,
6,000 kids a day
use prescription drugs
to get high
for the very first time,
and it's killing them, too.
The Attorney's Office has opened
a child death investigation
after a child overdosed
on prescription drugs
early this morning.
Tomorrow a summit will be held
to talk about
the growing problem
of babies born to addictive
prescription drugs.
Many of those who are affected
aren't taking pills to get high
but to get better,
following a doctor's orders
and accidentally developing
an unshakeable addiction.
It's the worst epidemic
we face in America today.
Prescription drug addiction.
I mean, we have...
Is it bigger than alcohol?
Way bigger.
Every 19 minutes,
someone dies in this country
of an accidental overdose.
Every 19 minutes.
That means that you take
a couple of pills
before you go to bed,
thinking you're going to get
your daughter to school
in the morning,
and you just don't wake up.
The deeper you dig,
the worse these guys look.
Recent publications
have revealed safety problems
with the drug Vioxx.
With billions being made
and not much to lose,
critics say even in the case
of crime, for this industry,
nothing is likely to change.
Unless people go to jail,
unless the fines are much larger
than they have been,
the companies will find
that it's cheaper to cheat.
In a combination civil
and criminal settlement,
Pfizer has agreed
to pay $2.3 billion,
the largest health care fraud
in the history
of the Department of Justice.
But at the same time,
the company made, I believe,
$8 billion in profit last year.
What some industry folks
are skeptical about
is that this isn't anything more
than just the cost
of doing business for a lot
of these drug companies.
Internal documents show that
after this company positively,
absolutely knew
that they had a medication
that was infected with the AIDS
virus, they took the product
off the market in the US,
and then they dumped it
in France, Europe, Asia
and Latin America.
- Hold on, Mike.
- So hold on, hold on.
So you're telling me
that Bayer knew
that this drug was infected
with the AIDS virus,
they yanked it from
the market in America,
and then they dumped it
in markets overseas?
They had to figure out a way,
Joe, to make a profit
on a product that they could
not sell in America.
You know,
these guys are no joke.
They're printing money.
They know what they're doing,
and they're great at it.
And if they can condition
a public, an entire culture
to something that's not true,
they're saving a lot of money.
You know?
And it doesn't help anybody.
It's killing a lot of people.
My niece was... she was
attending Indiana University.
She was a pre-med student,
and she was in a car accident,
and so they started her
on mood stabilizers
and antipsychotics
and antidepressants,
and by the time it was over,
she was on 14 different drugs.
She had to drop out of school.
She wasn't able to work.
She cold turkey-ed off of her
drugs, trying to recuperate,
and that is an absolute no-no.
I mean, you never, ever, ever
want to stop taking a
psychiatric drug cold turkey
because you will go
into an absolute tailspin.
So, out of desperation,
she walked into her
younger sister's room,
took an angel-shaped
oil lantern out of that room
and poured the oil over herself,
and she ignited it,
and she burned herself alive.
And once I had done
my due diligence and
my research on it,
and I realized that the
information had been there,
that these drugs
caused suicidal ideation
from the get-go,
and that it had been
covered up by the pharmaceutical
and by the FDA,
that... I got angry.
I spoke out when
they murdered my niece,
and that's what
happened to my niece.
They murdered your brother;
they murdered my niece,
because they knew
that these things existed,
and they knew that there were
people that were vulnerable
that would be taking them,
and they did not inform us.
The onus is on them.
People ask me all the time,
"Oh, aren't you afraid
the pharmaceutical industry
is going to kill you?"
Hell, no. I'm afraid
they're going to kill you
and you and you
and everybody I know
and everybody I love,
and I'm still going to be
sitting here, screaming
at the top of my lungs.
That's what I'm afraid of.
So, whatever that anybody
can do to add their voice
to this choir,
it's a moral obligation.
So, was Gwen right?
Had Pharma
really killed her niece?
Had they killed my brother?
This is Greg Critser.
He's a journalist who wrote
one of the top books
on America's relationship
to pharmaceuticals
called "Generation Rx."
It seems like we have this
culture of addiction, right?
And we have Big Pharma, who's...
Obviously they're
making these drugs
because there's
a demand for them.
They're also creating a demand.
There's doctors
who are pushing the drugs,
and you have good doctors
and bad doctors.
You have good drugs
and bad drugs.
You have, you know...
Who is the bad guys
and the good guys in all this,
or is there any,
or are they just thugs
on different levels, you know?
Yeah, I mean, as a journalist,
I'm always looking for bad guys,
and I did my book
about prescription drugs,
and some people said,
you know, oh, you know,
"Critser really let them
off the hook, you know.
He didn't condemn them."
And my feeling was,
"I'm just going to show you
what they do,
and you decide
if it's bad or not."
We Americans are pretty quick
to string up a bad guy,
from the commies of the Cold War
to the jihadists
in the War on Terror.
It feels good to point
the finger at someone,
and you can't really ask for
a more deserving bunch of guys
than Big Pharma.
But easy bad guys
are just lazy writing.
Nothing ruins a film
like an easy bad guy.
What about all the good
Pharma has done?
Modern medicine
has beaten diseases
that have ravaged mankind
and killed millions
over the century:
chicken pox, diphtheria,
malaria, measles, polio,
HIV all but eradicated
by pharmaceuticals, and that's
just in the past century,
so maybe Pharma is not
actually the disease
but just another symptom of
America's culture of addiction.
I think, you know,
one of the big problems
is culture, like you're
talking about.
I mean, I don't necessarily
call it an addiction culture.
I call it
a fix-things-quickly
Why do you think
it's so easy for people
just to go for
the quick, easy fix?
Well, I mean, going for
the quick, easy fix is human.
I mean, we want to minimize
our expenditure of calories.
It's very fundamental.
That's always going to be there.
The question is why does
the system accommodate it?
And I think that's
pure free market capitalism.
It takes one to know one,
as they say.
Maybe the reason
Pharma is so good
at preying
on our addictive natures
is that they're addicts, too.
And what's their addiction?
Drug companies
used to think of themselves
as medical science companies.
They were often led by
a scientist or a physician.
If you could get 10% profit
a year, that would be great.
We could roll out
one new drug a year, great.
If you look at the records
of the congressional hearings
in 1983 on prescription
drug advertising,
there's all these letters,
and these letter that go on
and on about what an awful idea
this is, et cetera, et cetera.
Well, they're all
from the presidents
of the major
pharmaceutical companies.
So, those guys changed,
you know?
The next generation
were not doctors.
They were people who were
interested in 15%.
I want ads
in the Boy Scout magazine,
in every college paper,
full-page ads in color.
It seems like the pharma
companies are just, like,
addicted to money.
I mean, they're like addicts
in themselves, in a way.
That's not news.
That's not news.
That's what they do, right?
I mean, they're in it to win it.
I mean, you go to a barber,
you're going to get a haircut.
You go to a bar,
you're going to get a drink.
I like to think
of drug companies
as motion picture makers.
They've decided,
I've got this movie
I'm going to show you guys.
I'm going to show it
to you so often,
that you're going
to internalize it,
and at some point if you get
one of these afflictions,
you're going to say,
"Hmm. I'm going to try that."
I think when you create
a culture in which
the default is the pill,
and not other things
that might make you better,
then you end up with addiction.
The origin of the word
for pharmaceutical is pharmakon,
It's Greek,
and it has two meanings.
One meaning is cure,
and the other meaning is poison.
It's a very insightful word
because when you think about it
almost all medicine is poison.
It's something
that's foreign to our body,
that one part
of our body or another
is going to have to react to,
as like an invading force.
Now, sometimes
it reacts a good way
and we get better,
but there's
a price for the poison,
is what I like to say.
So, you know,
in America we have...
We say we have
a war on drugs, right?
Yup. War on drugs.
No, man. No.
Fuck, man.
It's a war on money.
It's who can get
the most amount of money,
you know what I mean?
I made my money
in a lot of wrong ways
back in the day, too,
you know what I mean?
Everybody's on the take.
Yeah, fuck yeah, man.
I would be, you know.
But why
is nobody stopping it?
Why is nobody stopping
a machine that prints money?
Like the government.
I don't want to answer that.
You know the answer to that.
Everybody who's watching this
knows the answer to that.
Why does big oil
get government subsidies?
Because they sponsor
campaigns. Okay?
Why is Big Pharma allowed
to continue to make money?
Because they're
one of the most powerful
lobbying interests in the world.
I think we're at a point where
the United States and Europe
and most major companies
need to ask themselves
whether the health care
economy is sustainable
with these companies in it,
and I think,
the way they're operating,
it's not.
This is where we need
some political leadership.
But finding political
might prove to be harder
than you think.
In 2013, Big Pharma
spent close to $226 million
on lobbying our government with
an army of 1,445 lobbyists.
Congress only has 535 members.
So, that means Pharma spent
upwards of $422,000
per congressman, making sure
the US government knew
exactly what Pharma wanted.
That's a lot of influence.
And in 1992, Congress passed
the Prescription Drug
User Fee Act, which allows
pharma companies to pay
a fast-track fee to the FDA
of up to $350,000 per drug
to speed up
the approval process.
Like the FASTPASS line
at Disneyland, their drugs
get bumped to the front
of the line, and the result?
More drugs hitting the market
and Pharma's profits exploding.
If success is measured
by return on the dollar,
the pharmaceutical industry
made a killing.
- Maybe Horshu was right.
- Maybe everybody is on the take.
They say if you have a problem
in America, you can visit
your local congressman.
I tried it in my last film.
Maybe it will work better
this time.
This is California Congressman
Ted Lieu.
In a state with one
of the highest rates
of opium addiction and
overdoses in the country,
Congressman Lieu, unlike
a lot of other politicians,
is actually trying
to do something about it.
For a long time we've had
a war on illegal drugs.
These are legal drugs
that are killing
far more people,
and we need
to have systems in place,
where we can identify
someone that may be
abusing these painkillers.
The CURES system,
for example, is a database
that would let pharmacies
and doctors know if a patient
is going to multiple pharmacies
and multiple doctors,
trying to get the same
prescription medication.
Is there any sort of motion
to make the CURES program
or a program like it national?
So, it would be great
if there was a national
fully-funded program.
As you know, it's been difficult
to get things
through Congress these
days, so I don't have
high hopes for that,
so the individual states
I believe will have
to pick up the slack.
What's your feeling on
the medical marijuana stuff?
Well, people are not dying
from medical marijuana.
They are dying
from legal prescription drugs,
especially these
powerful painkillers.
I had a question
for you because I think
this is pretty crazy.
It's like you can just go
on Craigslist, right,
and you can type in,
like, OxyContin, Xanax,
whatever you want,
and you can just
pull it up and get it,
and they've done
stuff like outlawed
escorts on Craigslist,
But they haven't
done anything about
the prescription drugs.
How do we get people
like that to cooperate?
I did not know that
until you told me.
So, let me ask you this.
When you put
that in a Craigslist,
is it a doctor
that issues a prescription,
or do you just get something
mailed to your home?
No, it's some dude, you know.
And you just get it...
Oh, you go meet
some shady guy
in some shady part of town.
And you have, you know,
pink, delivery only,
$10, and click on it.
Minimum $10.
Must have address.
Discreet delivery.
Must have callback number.
Limited amount.
Send email to
Wait for callback or text tone.
That's illegal.
So, they could just stop this.
Well, they could put in
these words and say,
"Anything with this word
will be removed."
I got it.
I mean, it could be
that simple, right?
Yeah, that's crazy.
Thank you.
Look at this, it's a box of 'em.
Oh, my goodness.
Hey, I have a little
more than ten.
I only want to sell all at once.
That's just illegal.
That's amazing.
Okay. All right.
Thank you.
Thanks for showing that to me.
Thanks. Cool.
Senator Lieu's holding
a press conference
to have Craigslist stop
letting people advertise
prescription drugs
on their website,
and this is all
because of this film,
which is kinda crazy.
It's interesting
that you can make a movie
and actually affect a change
in people and affect things
that happen every day,
and maybe save some lives
along the way.
If not, then I just ratted out
all these people's drug hookups,
and they'll probably hate me,
but I wasn't the guy
that shut down the prostitutes,
if anybody
out there's wondering.
If you're on Craigslist
selling dope,
we're gonna put you in jail,
and that's my message to you.
Senator Lieu.
Thank you.
Thank you,
Assistant Chair Pentis.
More people die from
prescription painkillers
than cocaine
and heroin combined,
and Craigslist
is helping facilitate this.
That's why last month,
Nevada State Senator Segerblom
and I sent an letter
to Craigslist, asking them
to take down these ads.
To date, they have not.
We're calling
again for Craigslist
to immediately ban
these ads, the same way
that Craigslist did so
with prostitution ads.
This is a huge problem.
It's time for Craigslist
to do the responsible thing,
which is ban these ads.
The whole reason
why I knew about buying
drugs on Craigslist
is because I've done it.
I'm not happy to say
that I've done it,
but I have done it,
and I think that that's
the only way you can
affect change,
is to go out and be honest
with people and tell them
what you did,
and I was addicted to pills
'cause I had a hip problem,
but it's no different
from somebody
who gets addicted to it
'cause they like to be high.
My brother died,
and a big reason why he's
not here is prescription drugs,
and so till
you see that happen,
till you see people
go down that path,
people think it's a joke,
but it's not a joke.
It's serious.
Get out of here!
Thank you!
I first learned about Chris's
addiction and stuff like that
from his friend Leland,
who called me a couple of times.
It was kind of strange
'cause I'd get a phone call,
and he be, like,
"Hey, man, you know,
your brother's
having some issues,
and I think maybe
it's developing
into a problem, you know?"
And then we'd communicate again
a few months later,
and I'd be like,
"How's Chris doing?"
'cause he'd always give me
a straight up answer,
and he's like,
you know, he seemed
like he's refocused.
It seems like things are good,
things are moving forward
with his movie
and with his career and stuff
and looks like it's good.
And then I get another call
a few months later again, like,
"Hey, it looks like things
aren't going so good"
and stuff like that,
and then finally it
kind of climaxed to a point,
where his girlfriend,
she called me one day,
and it was kinda scary.
I mean, first of all,
it was a phone number that...
I don't really ever pick up
my phone.
I, like, never answer
my phone, but I just had a sense
that, like, there was just
something... Something was off,
you know, something was...
I just had a sense
that something may be wrong,
and so I answered it,
and it was his girlfriend
and she couldn't talk.
I didn't even understand
who it was. I was just, like,
you know, who the hell?
And she's like, "It's Lauren,"
and I'm like, "Lauren...
Oh, okay. Chris's girlfriend,"
and then she was very, you know,
very, very upset, hysterical,
and then, so I was just trying
to calm her down and get a sense
of what the hell was going on,
and she said that she was
outside his apartment,
and she was scared to go in
because she was scared
what she would find, you know?
She didn't know
how messed up he would be.
She didn't know if he'd be dead,
laying on the floor dead.
she didn't find me dead,
but I wasn't too far from it.
The truth was,
even making this film,
I'd been lying to everyone.
My addiction to pills
hadn't actually ended
after my hip surgery.
I traded pills for alcohol,
which led me right back
to the pills.
My family rallied the troops,
and the next thing I knew,
I was back with Richard Taite
at Cliffside Malibu,
but this time as a patient.
After 60 days of rehab,
I finally got to come home.
I'm so happy you're home.
I prayed so much for this.
I'm just so happy
you're doing better.
I'm sorry.
No, it's okay.
I needed to go to rehab,
so, like, whatever I did
whether it was subconsciously...
It definitely wasn't
It was subconsciously.
Whatever I did subconsciously
was like some sort of
weird cry for help
because I didn't
know how to say it.
I knew I had a problem
still, and I couldn't...
Like, I was like, whoa,
we're... Like, also like, yeah.
I went out, and I raised
the money for this movie,
and I got funded on this movie,
and they're like, okay, here,
go ahead, go make your movie.
What am I gonna do, turn around
and, like, "Well, here's
the problem with the movie.
I'm actually a drug addict
and an alcoholic, and I can't
admit it to you?"
So, like, let's not
make the movie.
I was sort of like wheels in
motion, and I'm like, you know,
when they said, "Okay, you won,
you got the money."
I'm like, shit.
Now I got the money.
Now I actually have to do it.
With you, you know.
I know, you know...
If I get phone calls a lot,
and you're excited,
I know that you're
doing good, but it's
when you don't want
to talk when I know
you're not doing good,
and I don't want
to make that phone call.
You kind of play
these things out,
and you're just gonna be,
like, "Oh, he's just gonna
tell me to fuck off,"
and I don't know why.
But I wouldn't do that.
I respect you probably
more than anybody.
You'd be the only person
I'd listen to.
The only one.
Uh, yeah. It's tough,
like I said.
I'm certainly welled up
right now over it.
There's so much
that I've lied about.
There's so much that I feel
sorry, like feel bad for.
Even during the
course of this movie,
I'm a liar, you know.
In the middle of the movie,
I go to the State Capitol,
and I talk to the Senator,
and I say to him, you know,
"You can buy these drugs
on Craigslist,"
and he said, "Well, how do
you know?" and I said,
"Well, I used to do it
years ago." I was doing it
while I was making the movie.
I was on the phone
calling people
on Craigslist buying Xanax.
If you're an addict, you
don't have a choice. Okay?
You don't have control over it.
It's got control over you.
What this is, it's
a behavioral disorder.
You habituate,
you do over
and over and over
again certain actions,
and you create a neural
pathway in your brain, okay?
And that's the action that
you're more likely to repeat.
Any time you're out
of balance with anything,
at its most simplest level,
it's a behavior
that you want to change,
and you have to replace
it with a behavior
that is more mindful
and balanced.
So, you change that behavior
that's causing you wreckage,
or grief in some way,
and you replace it
with the behavior
that serves you.
The problem with people
is that they don't want
to take responsibility.
They want to blame someone else.
The pharmaceutical industry
isn't doing this to us
if we don't allow it to be done.
There's something called
consumer demand.
If there was no consumer
demand, they would stop
pushing the things
down our throats.
So, people have to be proactive,
and they have to start
and be their own health
If you don't speak up for you,
no one is going
to speak up for you.
This is Kat Taylor.
She's a child psychologist
specializing in families
dealing with addiction.
Why do you think addiction
is such a big problem
in America?
Our culture trains us
to avoid bad things,
and I work with a lot
of children, and I ask them
to identify a time
they felt sad, and I have
a lot of children that
will not identify a time
they feel sad because
we're not supposed to be sad.
We get these messages
in our media and in our culture
that everything's
supposed to be great.
Anybody could just go
to Facebook, right?
Everything looks wonderful
on Facebook, right?
We're all launching
our own little campaigns
about how great our lives are,
and we want to have
the white picket fence.
We want to have
that American dream,
and it's just going to be...
Everything's gonna be great,
so this abject denial
of anything negative
leads us to feel
very uncomfortable.
A lot of times those
feelings are normal.
Negative feelings are normal.
Sad feelings are normal.
It's part of life.
We have to accept it.
As I was going through
the footage of this film,
I came across an interview
my father did with my brother
right before he died
that seems to get
to the heart of the matter.
So, what's your plan?
What do you think
you're gonna do?
Yeah, what I need to do is,
all the energy and time
and money that I waste
and spend on self-destructing,
I need to spend
on self-improving.
The biggest thing that you said
is that you don't want to be
an average Joe, and my point
is there's nothing wrong
with being an average Joe
'cause average Joe is the guy
who fights for his country,
you know. He doesn't know
how to do it, but he gets
to Normandy, on the beach,
and he decides, "I'm gonna
step up and get this done."
That's average Joe.
He steps up to the plate
and takes care of the problem,
whatever the problem is,
Like, I don't really
feel like there's any problem
with being an average Joe,
but you do. You think that...
You think I think you think
that you need to be,
or you want to be
a superstar of some kind.
Well, I thought
I was over that,
and apparently I'm not.
You know what
I mean? Like...
Well, but that's
the thing, though.
I don't think that
would make you happy,
even if you were.
You can't go on to be
a superstar,
a super personality,
a super anything,
until you step up
to the plate and manage
your own problem.
You could go on
and be great and happy.
You could end up dead
doing what you're doing.
Uh, that's not
what I want for you.
And I'm here because
I'm willing to do
whatever it takes
to help you. I love you.
I don't know what else
to say at this point.
Me neither, but I think
we should talk again
before they leave, though.
All right? Love you.
Love you.
Thanks for coming out.
Yeah. I can't get
up anymore.
At the beginning
of this movie,
I said my heroes were dying,
but maybe I just chose
the wrong heroes.
Maybe the real heroes
are the average Joes,
people like my father.
Maybe if Mad Dog and I
were satisfied with what
we had, instead of feeling like
the grass is always greener,
we wouldn't have turned
into something
outside of ourselves
for our happiness.
In a much bigger thing,
this movie is not really
about just prescription drugs.
It's about addiction.
It's about why are we
hooked on shit?
Why are we so easy to...
I need my Starbucks every day.
I need this every day.
I need that every day.
When we are at
sort of at our limit
of how many addictions
we could have,
something new comes out,
you know what I mean?
- If there's anything
- I've learned over the course
of making this film,
America is a nation of addicts.
We live in a quick-fix
consumer culture,
where the good life
is just a purchase away.
Whether it's a new car,
a new iPhone or a new pill,
all of your problems
can be solved
with this amazing new product,
and that is something
that Big Pharma has exploited
incredibly well
and to disastrous effect.
We are constantly bombarded
by images of unattainable
lifestyles inhabited
by always smiling people
who seem to have no problems,
but the real world
is full of problems,
and we're never told what to do
with the emptiness
that leaves behind.
I am on a lot of
prescription pills, though.
Oh, was that a story?
No, it's an addiction.
Is being hooked on video games
a medical condition?
Startling new insight
into the addictive power
of sugary,
salty and fatty foods...
Coffee addiction is real,
and Americans drink more coffee
than anyone else.
We've been reporting
on Internet addictions
on a mom who spent 50 hours
a week playing online games
and a dad who became obsessed
with Internet porn sites.
Somewhere along the way,
we traded doing the hard thing
for doing the easy thing,
and it hasn't suited us well.
In our push to become the
greatest country in the world,
we have lost sight of what made
us that way in the first place.
It's time for America to detox.
We need to examine
why we are so quick
to eat that cheeseburger,
drink that coffee
or take those pills.
Do we really need it,
or are we just feeding
the addict that hides in us all?
Oh Mr. Pharmacist,
I insist
That you give me some
of that vitamin C
Dear Pharmacist,
won't you please
Mr. Pharmacist,
Mr. Pharmacist
I'll recommend
you to my friends
They'll be happy
in the end
Oh, Mr. Pharmacist,
can you help
Dear Pharmacist,
use your mind
You better stock me up
for the wintertime
Mr. Pharmacist,
Mr. Pharmacist
Oh, Mr. Pharmacist,
I can plead
Gimme some
of that powder I need
Dear Pharmacist,
I'll be back
With a handful
of empty sack
Mr. Pharmacist,
Mr. Pharmacist
Mr. Pharmacist,
Mr. Pharmacist