When West Virginia University Reed College of Media Professor John Temple came across the story of America’s largest pill mill operation, he knew it had the potential to be a great book – or movie.
His upcoming book, “American Pain: How a Young Felon and Five Doctors Helped Unleash the Deadliest Drug Epidemic in U.S. History,” chronicles illegal painkiller trafficking through a Florida-based chain of pain clinics. And now, Warner Bros. is developing a movie based on the book.
“Prescription narcotic use has exploded over the past two decades, and this particular pill mill’s rise and fall is a crazy crime story,” Temple said. “I wanted to tell both of those stories. At first, I was thinking of it as a screenplay, but I eventually decided to write a book about it.”
Melisa Wallack, who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated movie “Dallas Buyers Club,” took an early interest in the book, and has been hired to write the screenplay. Temple has met with Wallack and is a consultant to the film.
Slated for publication by Lyons Press in fall 2015, “American Pain” is the true story of twin brothers, Christopher and Jeffrey George, who made $40 million in two years selling the addictive narcotic oxycodone at their pain clinics in Florida.
More than a dozen doctors worked for the clinics – many of whom had responded to ads on Craigslist and were obliged to supply powerful opioids to large numbers of patients.
“Prescription narcotics have taken a huge toll on West Virginia, and that’s one reason I wanted to write this book,” Temple said.
“Eighty percent of the customers at the main clinic came from states other than Florida, mostly Appalachian states.”
Millions of pills purchased from the clinics were subsequently resold on the streets. From 2008-10, the George brothers ran the nation’s largest illegal painkiller operation in the United States. Local and federal police raided the clinics during Operation Oxy Alley.
Named after one of the George brothers’ clinics, American Pain Clinic, Temple’s book and the recent movie deal were featured in Variety magazine last month.
Information about his previous books, “Deadhouse” and “The Last Lawyer”, which won the 2010 Scribes Award from the Society of Legal Writers, can be found at http://johntemplebooks.com.