Cause of Death: Unknown

2019, Health  -   5 Comments
Ratings: 7.35/10 from 23 users.

The opioid epidemic represents the most profound public health crisis in recent times. The statistics are staggering. More than 200,000 Americans have perished from opioid related causes over the past five years. Now, the crisis has spread to regions like Germany and France. Produced by the DW Documentary series, Cause of Death: Unknown tracks the sinister scourge of opioid addiction, examines the human tolls it has taken on communities across the American landscape, and exposes the culprits who are behind its deadly spread.

The film opens in the opioid capital of the United States - West Virginia - a state that contends with the highest overdose rate in the country. We see a woman place flowers on the graves of friends who have perished from addiction. She wasn't successful in escaping the disease herself. Her addiction resulted from a doctor's repeated prescriptions for Oxycontin, and soon she turned to selling the drugs to support her growing habit. It's possible that she is partially responsible for some of her friends' deaths.

The film shifts perspective from the deeply personal stories of opioid abusers to the massive industries that profit most from their misery. It's particularly effective in portraying the shameful collaboration between members of the medical community and the opioid manufacturer Purdue. The company encouraged doctors to prescribe more potent doses, lavished them with high-paying speaking gigs, and effectively incentivized the business of addiction. The film features insights from a corporate whistleblower who further details their shadowy tactics in shattering detail.

Their day of reckoning might be at hand. More than a thousand communities are filing a class action lawsuit against the largest drug distributors to the tune of 500 billion dollars a year. The objective is to hit these companies where they're most vulnerable: their deep pocketbooks. Participants agree that this is the only way to enact meaningful policy change. "Money drives it all," explains one of the case attorneys.

In its final act, Cause of Death: Unknown travels outside the United States to witness more personal stories of loss and devastation, and the steps being taken to curb a seemingly global apocalypse of addiction.

Directed by: Carmen Butta

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5 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Mark Gaboury

    Blame the users the most, doctors next, and drug companies last. When I was on morphine pills, it never even occurred to me to crush them in order to get more high. Why not? Because I'm not a weak-minded loser. These addicts are victims of themselves. In the ad, Purdue did not lie. Use the drug as prescribed for pain, and for pain alone, without crushing the pills, and there is no problem.

  2. Mark Deegan

    The government allows it

  3. Marijke

    That is about 40.000 a year. Not a single word about the same amount, namely 40.000 a year, that die because of shotgun wounds!!!! 40.000! A Year!!!! People that die because other people 'have the lawful right to now a pistol/rifle or whatever gun they like...A nation of would-be murders, protected by law!

  4. andrew

    this guys gay voice is as annoying as the lgbt movement. as also as fake

  5. maryw

    Really,,not 1 word about 42,000 dead from psychotropics alone..Every piece of data on opiates is a lie,,by liars,,Always they include idiots who mix drugs,or do not take as prescribed..Meanwhile anyone w/a medical illness that is painful is left to die in agony!!Since when has America condone the willfull torture/genocide of the medically ill in physical pain?For that is the truth as to what is happening to any medically ill humanbeing in physical pain,,their being tortured,some tortured to death..Thanks a lot opiate-phobs,,,just call yourselves tortures instead,,torturer's of the medcally ill in physical pain,,What gives u that right??to torture another humanbeing??maryw