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Publisher's Summary

The king of the Florida pill mills was American Pain, a megaclinic expressly created to serve addicts posing as patients. From a fortresslike former bank building, American Pain's doctors distributed massive quantities of oxycodone to hundreds of customers a day, mostly traffickers and addicts who came by the vanload. Inked muscleheads ran the clinic's security. Former strippers operated the pharmacy, counting out pills and stashing cash in garbage bags. Under their lab coats, the doctors carried guns, and it was all legal...sort of.

American Pain chronicles the rise and fall of this game-changing pill mill and how it helped tip the nation into its current opioid crisis. The narrative, which swings back and forth between Florida and Kentucky, is populated by a diverse cast of characters. This includes the incongruous band of wealthy bad boys, thugs, and esteemed physicians who built American Pain as well as the penniless Kentucky clans who transformed themselves into painkiller trafficking rings. It includes addicts whose lives were devastated by American Pain's drugs and the federal agents and grieving mothers who labored for years to bring the clinic's crew to justice.

©2015 John Temple (P)2015 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Journalism professor Temple dissects the Georges' criminal operation and documents the rise and fall of American Pain with precision and authority in this highly readable true crime account." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Now I understand the problem

A great book. As a physician I wondered why doctors were being blamed for the opiate epidemic. I understand better now but I still am upset with some of the information that I learned. In the past the DEA which dictatesThe amount of controlled drugs that can be produced by the companies has cut off or markedly decreased the amount of certain medicines in the past such as Quaalude. It instantly stopped the epidemic and yet the book tells me that in the last 10 years the DEA has allowed manufacturers to increase opiate production. In fact the amount produced in the year the book was published was I think 43 times what it was in the early 2000's! Shocking. It's very disappointing and discouraging to know that this epidemic could be stopped but it's almost like somebody doesn't want it to be stopped A great book. A must read

54 of 56 people found this review helpful

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Tragically fascinating

As somebody who has friends and family who have struggled with painkiller addiction this book was as frustrating as it was engrossing. I finished it in a couple days and found myself listening to it while I was falling asleep. If you have or know somebody who has struggled with opiate addiction you will find this book very interesting. It doesn't have an agenda it's not pro doctors or pro patients. It just presents the facts. I had heard Florida was the painkiller Capitol of the US but had no idea. The narrator did a good job making the scene easy to visualize in your head by changes in tone and so on.

30 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Fred
  • Bothell, WA, United States
  • 05-28-16

A true story that reads like good fiction - and in-depth look at "pill mills"

This is a no nonsense blow by blow story of the creation of the country's largest illegal drug source. Pill mills were growing rapidly all over the country but primarily in Florida. Everything seemed to be legal but commonsense should have told them that things weren't right. When somebody arrives from Kentucky and leaves with a prescription for 340 pills – something isn't right!

The narrative is constructed in a very understandable way and follows the course of growing and later dismantling these large Florida businesses. American Pain itself accounted for a large percentage of the illicit drug use in the United States during that period of time.

It was amazing to read how the staff and the doctors even full of themselves into thinking they were doing legitimate medical prescribing.

Very highly recommended!

28 of 29 people found this review helpful

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American Pain is only the beginning

Where does American Pain rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top five as it was very informative and makes the reader understand in laymans terms what is going on in our state of Kentucky

Who was your favorite character and why?

I didn't really have a favorite in this book

What does Charlie Thurston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His realism in terms of the humanity that lost their way.

If you could give American Pain a new subtitle, what would it be?

The Cost of Human Suffering by Big Pharma

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Wow!

One of the most interesting reads I've had in quite a while. I normally stick to fiction but this was definitely worth the foray out.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Misty
  • GALLATIN, TN, United States
  • 06-07-16

Bad Southern accents, but great book.

Temple did a great job weaving a million elements into a very fast paced storyline. I experienced sadness and anger as the story developed. Many lives spun even more out of control thanks to these greedy, self-centered characters. And the doctors...wow. Listen and be amazed. The only negative comment is the over dramatization of the character's voices. For me it was very distracting.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting

I bought this through the daily deal and wasn't expecting to much. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The story was interesting and made personal through the descriptions and background history of the main characters. The author revealed some statistics near the end of the book that were astounding.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Worst part is that it was almost legal

The first thing I will note is that I found the characters a little difficult to keep straight - they all seemed very similar to each other in attitude and behaviour so when they referred to each other, it would take me a second to figure out which was the head guy and which the 'muscle', etc.

The second thing of note is that the 'vignette' stories chosen to demonstrate just how bad this Oxy issue is were a bit scattered, or perhaps the better word is thin... the author spent 80% of the book looking at the main characters and their drug marketing process but the 20% which looked at (real) people's issues with the drug, or the company, seemed randomly inserted. Sure, they were interesting, but the flow was not really logical - we read 4 chapters about the business, then a vignette chapter about an addict dying from a drug overdose, then 2 chapters of business, then a chapter with another set of characters drug addiction, etc. There didn't seem to be a pattern, unless it was meant to be a time-scale thing, but that was not clear.

I did, however, Google this organization when I finished the book and it seems the story was based on real characters, and real addicts, so perhaps the weird addition of certain addicts' details was because those were the ones whose information was public due to lawsuits, or whatever... and the rest of the addicts' story were just a conglomeration of stories blended together.

Anyway, all that being said, I couldn't put the book down. I don't understand how they were allowed to run this business this way, and/or why they had to go so far with it that they got arrested... because until some (unclear) tipping point, what they were doing was legal (which is sad in and of itself). Though I suppose once you start making so much money each day that you have to put it into garbage cans, you might realize you probably crossed a line somewhere.

The narration is fine. There is no graphic content but, of course, the material discusses drugs and drug addiction.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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I had no idea!

good story, told as a story, about an epidemic uncovered. I enjoyed the read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Informative and interesting story

American pain should be renamed American horror story. It is an unbelievable story of loss, suffering, greed and redemption. Worth reading and keeps you listening but not stellar, by any means.

16 of 21 people found this review helpful