American Overdose

Chris McGreal

A devastating portrait of America’s opioid painkiller epidemic – the deadliest drug crisis in US history.

Date Published
All orders are sent via Royal Mail and are tracked: choose from standard or premium delivery.


‘A riveting and urgent reckoning of colossal corruption.’ – Philip Gourevitch

One hundred and fifty Americans are killed each day by the opioid epidemic, described by a former head of the Food and Drug Administration as ‘one of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine’. But as Chris McGreal reveals in American Overdose, it was an avoidable tragedy driven by bad science, corporate greed and a corrupted medical system.

In a narrative brimming with the guilty, the victims and the unlikely heroes, Chris McGreal travels from West Virginia ‘pill mills’ to the corridors of Washington DC as he unravels the story of Big Pharma’s hijacking of American healthcare and politics to push mass prescribing of ‘heroin in a pill’.

He meets the police and FBI agents who struggled to get prosecutors to go after doctors they called ‘drug dealers in white coats’; the families devastated by painkillers they thought would heal, not kill; and the physicians and scientists who took on the drug companies behind the epidemic. The result is an immensely powerful account of the terrible human cost of the crisis, and a stark warning of the consequences of a healthcare system run as a business, not a service.

Critic Reviews

American Overdose confirms Chris McGreal's stature as one of the truly essential reporters of our times. It is – in its investigative depth and documentary breadth – a riveting and urgent reckoning of colossal corruption that has taken such a staggering toll on twenty-first century American life.

Philip Gourevitch, author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families
Critic Reviews

In this gripping account, McGreal exposes the avarice and corruption that caused one of the most shocking crises in American history. A searing expose full of extraordinary characters - heroes, villains and victims.

Katty Kay, presenter BBC World News America
Critic Reviews

With great reporting and compelling story telling, American Overdose lays bare the tragedy of the opioid epidemic tearing at the soul of the United States. Those who want to understand the issue of narcotics and addiction have to read it.

Ioan Grillo, author of El Narco