Variety: Review of Docu "American Pain&quot

Variety headline: ‘American Pain’ Review: A Gripping Documentary Portrait of Twin Kings of the Pill Mill Hill

Subheadline: Documentarian Darren Foster’s Tribeca premiere tells a grotesque tale of bodybuilding Florida brothers, lethal opioid exploitation, sky-high profits and absurdly slack state oversight.

By Dennis Harvey…

Raised in upscale West Palm Beach enclave Wellington, they lacked for nothing, yet began building rap sheets for offenses both petty and alarming well before legal maturity. As noted by their father, a building industry magnate, strings were pulled so they usually got off with a community-service wrist slap. Once their mother remarried, a stepfather (among the more sympathetic figures here) “noticed early on that they were a little… difficult.” Especially after that time they started a forest fire.

Shifting shared athleticism towards bodybuilding, the two turned that pursuit into business with their first official partnership, a “hormone replacement clinic” front for illegal steroid sales. But they were told “the real money” was in pain pills. So taking advantage of Florida’s amazingly lax licensing at the time, they swiftly set themselves up as proprietors of an ostensible pain clinic that had a line around the block on its very first day. Doctors were easily found to rubber-stamp prescriptions for those “in pain,” equipment bought (like an MRI scanner) to make the diagnoses look legit enough. Save for suspected undercover cops, no one was turned away, and the state’s lack of any monitoring database meant that little stopped patrons (whether addicts, dealers or both) from stockpiling oxycodone and other drugs for resale. People were soon driving across multiple state lines to load up, then resell at inflated cost back home — if they didn’t nod off and die in a wreck on the way back, a common occurrence.

As operations expanded and profits grew astronomical, naturally the Georges’ establishments began to attract some unwanted attention — from various governmental investigators, jealous copycat entrepreneurs, snooping journalists and unhappy strip-mall neighbors. Among those last was a tech store owner who happily filled the brothers’ computer and security-camera needs. Little did they realize John Friskey had lost a son to opioids, which fueled his supplying law enforcement with damning evidence via the equipment he’d installed.

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