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It’s been over two decades since the American opioid crisis began, and finally, society is ready to reckon with the carnage that ensued. As laws are put in place to restrict the use of addictive drugs, Hollywood is telling stories of survivors and victims on the small screen.
The latest is Netflix’s film Pain Hustlers, starring Emily Blunt and Chris Evans. Pain Hustlers follows a woman who falls on hard times, and finds it increasingly difficult to care for her daughter. Out of desperation, she takes a job working for a pharmaceutical company. Soon after, she discovers they’re pushing an addictive drug to unknowing patients. Instead of backing away from the company, she goes along with the scheme and finds herself in the midst of an ethical nightmare.
Pain Hustlers was released on October 27. The film is fictional, but it was inspired by true events. Now that audiences have had chance to see the story unravel, people are wondering if Lonafen—the drug prescribed in Pain Hustlers—is real. Here’s everything we know.
What is Lonafen?
In the movie, Lonafen is described as a synthetic form of fentanyl—a highly addictive narcotic—that can help cancer patients mitigate their symptoms and alleviate pain. Lonafen is created and administered by Zanna, a fictional pharmaceutical company, who declines to tell patients about its addictive effects.
Is Lonafen Real?
To put it simply: Lonafen is not real. In Pain Hustlers, Lonafen is modeled after Subsys, a real medication that released in 2012. Subsys is an oral fentanyl spray that was initially offered to cancer patients, before being pushed to the general public. When it hit the market, Subsys was lauded for being 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. According to PBS, seven pharmaceutical executives who distributed Subsys were found guilty of bribing doctors to prescribe the drug to vulnerable patients. So, yes–even though Lonafen is not real, it has some harrowing truth in reality.
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