This is an incredible book. MBA programs in universities around the country should be using it as a case study. Author Sam Quinones is a long time crime reporter who became fascinated by the opioid and heroin epidemic that swept across this country killing more people than auto accidents. Quinones started researching the book full time in 2013 and it was published in 2015. The numbers are staggering. Just unimaginable. If it’s a subject you aren’t familiar with, it’s because the stigma associated with drug addiction and death has kept the largely white middle class Americans who have been affected silent about their suffering.
As with many books written by journalists, this one is gripping and reads like a novel from start to finish. The title “Dreamland” comes from a large community swimming pool in Portsmouth, Ohio. For decades it was the community gathering place. The book begins and ends in Portsmouth, which Quinones calls “America’s opiate ground zero.”
This is a story about big pharma, the release of OxyContin, a single paragraph published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980, the shift in chronic pain management, the collapse of the manufacturing economy in many states, and the small state of Nayarit in Mexico that produced a large network of heroin traffickers out of its capitol of Xalisco. It was a convergence of pill mills in the East meeting a distributed network of drug traffickers from the West peddling a cheap and potent “black tar heroin” that collided in the state of Ohio.
The fascinating cast of characters includes Virginia’s own John Brownlee, US attorney for the western district in 2006, who filed the first law suit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, for criminal misbranding. “Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to a felony count of ‘misbranding’ OxyContin. To avoid federal prison sentences for its executives, the company paid a $634.5 million fine, among the largest in the history of the pharmaceutical industry at the time.”Read More