Prescription Thugs (2015) Poster

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6/10
just ask your doctor?
ferguson-621 January 2016
Greetings again from the darkness. United States citizens are living in a culture of addiction. That's the key message that director Chris Bell and his co-directors Josh Alexander (also the film's writer) and Greg Young wish to get across. Of course, this one's not about cocaine or heroin, but rather the more rampant societal problem of overmedication via prescription drugs. It's not really a revelation or shock-inducing theme, but it's certainly a worthy and important topic.

The movie begins with Chris Bell introducing himself and reminding us of his first movie, the well received documentary Bigger Stronger Faster (2008). In that one, he focused on the use of steroids and Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED's) throughout competitive bodybuilding – including him and his brother. Bell connects the two docs by explaining that the steroids lead to pain killers and other prescription drugs … legal drugs prescribed by doctors. To the detriment of the message, he chooses to focus on this for an extended period by speaking with WWE wrestlers, MMA fighters and by explaining that he believes the drugs are at least partially responsible for the death of his brother, known in the wrestling world as Mike "Mad Dog" Bell.

It's this overly-personalized approach that limits the film's effectiveness. Chris Bell takes the Michael Moore/Morgan Spurlock approach by putting himself smack dab in the middle of most every segment, and even using cutesy sidebars like animation and a Scarface clip. The result is a somewhat amateurish look and feel to a topic that deserves better.

In case there are doubters, Bell provides some startling statistics … the U.S. is 5% of the world's population, but consumes 75% of the prescription drugs. One in ten American adults are on antidepressants. Keep that last statistic in mind the next time you stroll through your office, church or the neighborhood shopping mall.

Bell devotes time to "Big Pharma" and its army of lobbyists. He takes us back to the deregulation initiatives of the 1980's which kicked off what has become the onslaught of "ask your doctor" TV ads that permeate the airwaves. The implied message is simple: if your doctor says the drug is OK, then it must be safe and effective. Our society is being marketed right into addiction. Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Codeine are all part of the Opiate family … the same as heroin. The reality is that the business of prescription drugs has evolved into a money-printing industry. Profits are the goal, which is why treatment is emphasized over cure. An addicted patient is profitable patient, and in a best case scenario for Big Pharma, the side effects of one drug lead that patient right into another drug … sometimes both are produced by the same pharmaceutical manufacturer!

The second half of the film is structured significantly better than the first, and includes what is the most impactful sequence. Bell visits with California Congressman Ted Lieu, who is jolted into action when he is sees that Oxy is readily available on Craigslist. This section also leads to a not-so-surprising confession from Bell – a confession that helps explain why he is so intent on being the center of the movie. A key point that is mentioned, but underplayed, is the admission by a doctor that an entire generation of medical school graduates has been taught that there is no downside to prescribing whatever level of pain medication is required for a patient, and even more frightening is the concern that doctors are being misled by drug companies in regards to efficacy and side effects. It's another link in the seemingly unbreakable chain that doesn't address the underlying issue.

This culture of addiction is now self-perpetuating. Pressure to maintain profits far outweighs the rewards of curing a disease, and the FDA approval process is highly politicized. This despite the high-profile celebrity deaths of which Bell reminds us: Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston. Prescription drugs played a role in each those deaths, as well as countless others who never had a hit record or movie. While much has been made of the failures of the "War on Drugs", you may question why more focus isn't given to the Rx addictions. To help in dealing with this conundrum, there are probably drugs available … just "ask your doctor."
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1/10
Everyone wants to blame the drugs instead of the idiots.
einherjarjac8 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Here we have a documentary blaming doctors and prescription drugs for the fact that there are stupid and reckless people out there who will mix ten different drugs without even knowing if they have interactions, or who will take 50 pills of something containing acetaminophen without even bothering to go online and do some research to learn that it is extremely damaging to the liver and is deadly.

The solution, according to this documentary? Blame doctors and make prescription drugs harder to get. I have used drugs for recreational purposes many times in my life and have been addicted to pills at times and to alcohol for years at a time and I can tell you from experience, alcohol is 1,000 times worse than benzos or opiates, UNLESS YOU'RE STUPID ENOUGH TO BE DOWNING ENTIRE BOTTLES, AND TAKING THEM IN COCKTAILS YOU NEVER EVEN BOTHERED RESEARCHING! I mean jeez, cant we just blame stupid here? It ticks me off when people like my father, who has rheumatoid arthritis, are having to fight with their doctors all the time and be put on excruciating "drug holidays" all because of documentaries like this and the people who agree with them. Chris Bell made it sound like these drugs were easy as can be to get from a doctor; yeah, if you've got 6 figures in the bank because you're a pro wrestler, UFC fighter, etc. Not to mention that nearly all of the anecdotes he heard from these people were regarding their doctor-shopping behavior from several years to a decade or more ago. For the normal patients in the year 2016, most of which actually need the drugs, these drugs have become incredibly hard to get at doses high enough to do anything or duration's long enough to treat chronic pain.

But guess what? The reckless, too-dumb-to-research-the-drugs-on-the-internet abusers and addicts can still get it online, on the street and from clandestine laboratories. But go on, blame the doctors and blame the drugs. Never mind that nearly every person he interviewed here was so knuckle-draggingly dumb and that even the majority of people who do abuse these drugs don't die or wind up in serious trouble precisely because they are not as kuckle-draggingly dumb as these idiots.

I mean come on, the guy who had a stroke was talking about taking 90 pills a day, including several that were of the same class and two in high quantities that both contained acetaminophen! That level of stupid can not be blamed on anything but stupid!
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1/10
Nice try, bad outcome
jonnysolem19 June 2016
What do we have here? We have Chris, who have made this film. Chris is one of three brothers. These brothers are heavy users of anabolic steroids. Which, by the way, strangely enough is not a topic in this movie, although my 13-year old daughter saw that right away. Chris's oldest brother have been in wrestling and wants to be a famous superstar, and he is addicted to painkillers. Painkillers are the topic in this film.

In the film Chris is going after the painkiller industry, the pharmaceutical industry.

In his tour around for showing us how this dirty business really works, he interviews a lot of guys. The guys are medical junkies, no doubt, all on heavy doses of anabolic steroids, like Chris himself, big strong guys who cries sometimes in front of the camera, really crying tears, obviously in mental disorder. And he interview a homeopathic doctor who tell us all the bad things the pharmaceutical industry does. A homeopathic doctor! Why does he interview a homeopathic doctor? Well, because homeopathy is quackery, and the whole movie is in some way quackery.

I feel sorry for these guys. I really do. And for Chris, the little guy who wants to be big as his bigger brothers. They obviously need help, all of them. But when they combine all this drugs that they do combine, and blame it on painkillers, that really is just too stupid.

Someone should have told Chris, because he is not in a condition to see for himself, as we will find out in the movie. But someone should have told him: "Don't make this movie, you are out of balance and don't see clear, Chris".
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7/10
Prescription Thugs: A Personal Study of Corruption of the U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry
AnnaFaktorovich13 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Excerpt from Cinematic Codes Review: Spring 2016 Issue: for visuals see: https://anaphoraliterary.com/journals/ccr/film-reviews-spring-2016/

This is the second documentary I watched with Chris Bell as the narrator and interviewer, and I like his bland of personal stories about the struggles with steroids and other drugs that his family has gone through as his two brothers and he have attempted to make in competitive sports. Statistics, law codes and other highly researched information is presented on how the Big Pharma industry works. I would definitely recommend this film to anybody considering taking legal uppers, downers, painkillers and other drugs that interrupt the human mind. I have been thinking about this topic lately after Robin Williams' suicide after a struggle to find anti-depressants that would keep him actively employed as he struggled to pay off a divorce and start over with his new wife in his giant mansion. It's great to see that other people in America are concerned about drug addiction and that it's not a War only between the state and the bulk of the American public.

Fig. 24. Mike Bell (left) in a World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. match for Monday Night Raw.

The picture above is of Mike Bell, Chris Bell's brother, who was the first to succeed between the three Bell brothers and inspired Chris as he started following his path. In this screenshot, Mike is losing a match once again to a popular opponent in a World Wrestling Entertainment event. Chris describes how Mike started to feel that he was just following a carnival as a side act, instead of taking the center-stage. He was also suffering a lot of beatings in WWE and the pain from these got him hooked on pain killers until his addiction got out of control and he died during the filming of Prescription Thugs, a fate that Chris anticipated with worry from the beginning of the project. Chris recalled his older brother, Mike, saying, "I'd rather be dead than average." About this volatile idea, Chris comments: "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?" Chris also confesses at the end of the film that he himself had been struggling with addiction to drugs, and had to check into rehab before he finished shooting. The research is really helped by first-hand, honest accounts from him and the athletes with similar problems that he interviews. This film presents some great facts that explain the legal drug epidemic. In the diagram below, 535 Republican and Democrat congressional representatives are having on average $422,000 thrown on them annually from the 1,445 lobbyists representing Big Pharma. The congressmen that receive the most donations, can run the most expensive advertising campaigns and are likely to be re-elected. Thus, there is a cycle that keeps recycling more politicians willing to accept bribes, while those who stand up for their beliefs are ousted out of office.

Fig. 25. Republican and Democrat 535 congressmen and the 1,445 lobbyists for Big Pharma that give each Congressman $422,000 annually.

Because of all of the problems with corruption in Washington DC, it was refreshing to see a state representative that is acting on facts and on his moral obligations to his community.

Fig. 26. Senator Ted Lieu, State Senator of California (right) being shown how to buy prescription drugs on Craigslist by the Director, Chris Bell (left).

Chris Bell narrates, "In a state (California) with one of the highest rates of opiate addictions and overdoses in the country, Congressman Lieu, unlike a lot of other politicians, is actually trying to do something about it." Lieu replies: "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 Cure 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 medications." When asked if it was likely the same laws could become national, Lieu said, "As you know it's difficult to get things through Congress nowadays…" When asked about the marijuana debate, he replied, "Well, people are not dying from marijuana. People are dying from legal prescription drugs…" There are many other similar engaging conversations with medical professionals, politicians and researchers, so somebody familiar with the topic might learn something new as well. Senator Lieu certainly did. In the still above, Chris is showing Senator Lieu how to buy prescription drugs illegally on Craigslist. This conversation started when Chris asked why Craigslist started deleting prostitution posts, but still posts the illegal drugs postings. Senator Lieu confessed that he was not aware of this weakness in the system and he brought in the state police and started a motion to make such postings illegal soon after the initial talk with Chris. It was great to see that this film made a positive change that might help some people from dying from a prescription drug addiction.

Title: Prescription Thugs Directed by: Chris Bell, Josh Alexander Writer: Josh Alexander Stars: Jeff Hatch Genre: Documentary Rating: NR Running Time: 86 min Release: 2015
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All in the Family
juliadixonx23 August 2018
Seems like the mother set her sons up for addiction with rampant overeating, in the process demonstrating that one solves pain by consuming substances. Food can be a drug; its overconsumption is often a compulsive behavior.
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I remember enjoying Bigger, Faster
ersbel5 May 2017
Short version: Suffering needs an external factor to blame. Mix that with the locker room game of who's penis is bigger and poor state education and you have enough to add more voices to the Conspiracy Theory.

Long version: I remember enjoying Bigger, Faster. I don't remember much of its argument. It was about all people going for performance using anything that might enhance performance. Which makes perfect sense.

This one is a different story. It is well made as a personal trip. But it is a trip down the conspiracy lunacy. The stars are the three Bell brothers. Not much school. Not much science. But hard work. Really hard work. Meaning they are not very qualified at reasoning, the same way a couch potato is not very qualified at pushing weights like the Bell brothers. To add more drama, the older brother is very dear to all, and he dies. Somebody has to be blamed. Not the family. Because the family is telling the story. Thus some external factor has to be found. The extreme sports? Nope. They gain their living from there. The state school that failed all three of them with mediocre education and high dreams? Nope. Because they believe that education, like church is by definition good.

And here it comes the relevant part: the mindless state run campaigns against what they call drugs. That was only a smart way to use public money to reinforce and expand state control. All Chris Bell had to do was realize that legal drugs are not much different from illegal drugs. And than it spiraled down the Big Pharma conspiracy.

Instead of talking how the state employees kill almost every overdose victim because street chemicals can't possibly be on a par with the quality of the pharmacy-sold chemicals, Bell talks about the rising profits of those who do the well made chemicals. Are the profits rising? Sure. Inflation is one reason. The same way the plumber asks me for more money in 2017 than in 2007 than in 1997, the pharmaceutical companies also do that.

But Chris Bell is spiraling down and cheating like with other aspects of his life. He does not talk about profits. He pushes the income of those companies. And that is a scam. Because the state is taxing more money. From the minimal wage, to the mandatory health insurance to the ridiculous sums for medical trials, to all sort of other taxes. Everything the state is taking is finally going to come out of the consumers' pockets.

Are Americans consuming 75% of the pharmaceutical production? I haven't seen the reference to that. I assume this is only a sleight of hand trick. A rough 75% of the value and letting the viewer assume 75% of the quantity. But that is only my speculation. Let's assume it's true and the Americans take 75%. Do they take 75%? Nobody can know that. Take the online pharmacies. That quantity is never taken into account. Now take the case of the person being impressed so much by this movie that they goes flushing down the toilet the personal stock only to find out they can't live without the painkillers, thus buying more even if they doesn't consume more.

And even if Americans do consume 75% of the number of pills, so what? It does not mean anything. One pill can have a certain dosage and another pill, the exact same size can have ten times the quantity of active ingredients. Making a quantitative measure makes no sense. Now add that the Bell family is made out of adults, all paying taxes. And those taxes go to fuel the many wars and blockades the Global Policeman wishes upon other regions of the world. Regions that are left without basic medication. People that would take that medication, but they can't. Do the people in the remote areas take pills? No. Because they can't afford the many days of walking to the nearest town with a pharmacy or doctor.

Or maybe the people living below the poverty line do not suffer any illness or injury.

Anyway: why is the quantity of pills relevant? A 12 year old in a poor neighborhood will not take pills even if he need them and a 85 year old aids sufferer will take pills by the fist. Quantity means nothing.

Why is the price relevant? The Average American pays more for lunch than the Average Indian. The quality is better for the American. The American lunch is full of proteins which happen to be more expensive anywhere in the world than starch. And even if the lunches were comparable, food prices are higher in the States so the American is left with the more expensive bill. So does the price say anything? Yes. That the Americans are richer.

Contact me with Questions, Comments or Suggestions ryitfork @ bitmail.ch
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Full of falsehoods
random-7077820 November 2019
The very first thing we learn from this film is "Americans consume 75% of the world's prescription drugs."

This claim has been debunked over and over. For example Canadians. French, Germans and Brits consume the same drugs at the same per capita rates. In fact maybe even more so given that many drugs in the US that require a prescription do not require one in many other places and therefore are not "prescription drugs." In Denmark for example you can walk into a pharmacy and with a "consultation' with the pharmacist get antibiotics -- and it doesn't count a s "prescription" using the metric the "75%" claim uses

and what is with the interview with the "homeopathic'" doctor"? LOL
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7/10
Prescription drugs are being given out like candy in this country and for what?
rukstar6923 February 2018
This look into legal drugs (Prescription drugs) by film maker Chris Bell shows how money driven this country is. I am a proud American and I'll be the first to say how corrupt we are. Prescription drugs are being given out like candy in this country and for what? Yup, you guessed it....MONEY! These drugs are destroying people but money is all that matters. Chris will tell you his dirty little secret about his life during this film. I enjoyed it a lot.
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