American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America's Deadliest Drug Epidemic - John Temple

Eye-opening.

 

Heart breaking.

 

Anger inducing.

 

Highly recommended reading for anyone who cares about the state of healthcare in the US or drug abuse in their communities.

 

This is the story of America Pain, a "pill mill" created by Chris and Jeff George and their friend Derik Nolan. The empire was head quartered in Florida (Broward County, Palm Beach County, one small clinic in Georgia that didn't pan out) but the effects were felt throughout the Southeast. The rise of Oxycontin abuse started in the early 1990s when a drug company was losing its patent on a product and needed a new blockbuster drug product to market and sell to make up the profit loss. Aided by differing and often lax state laws, American Pain was a rags-to-riches-back-to-rags story.

 

John Temple wrote a well-researched and stark book. He did not try to analyze or make the facts fit an exploitive narrative; he let the experts and the facts speak for themselves. He also didn't try to over describe or create a character out of the very real people he profiled in his book. He seemed to take the most care with Alice Mason, whose son died after one trip to American Pain. Mrs. Mason was from rural Kentucky and was in mourning for her son; Temple neither made her out to be naïve or dumb redneck and he didn't poke at her mourning either.  

 

Maybe that is why I found this book so page-turning good; the story stood on its own merits without commentary from the author. I will be looking for more of Mr. Temple's work in the future. 4.5 stars.