Spotify and Vice News Launch ‘Painkiller: America’s Fentanyl Crisis’ Podcast (Exclusive)

Host Keegan Hamilton spoke to TheWrap about why this topic is more relevant than ever during the coronavirus crisis and uprising against systemic racism

Last Updated: June 23, 2020 @ 5:49 AM

Spotify is launching a new podcast June 29, tracking the chain of the opioid fentanyl from production to local communities while uncovering disparities between racial and socio-economic status and bringing the American overdose epidemic to light.

All eight episodes of “Painkiller: America’s Fentanyl Crisis” are co-produced by Vice News, hosted by Keegan Hamilton and available to stream at once on launch day. They examine fentanyl, which kills more Americans per year than any other drug and is much more potent than even heroin. One U.S. Special Agent in the series calls it a “smuggler’s dream.”

In a chat with TheWrap, Hamilton explained that the expansion of fentanyl access in America and the opioid overdose epidemic are “absolutely a public health crisis,” but “not always framed that way.” Amid the coronavirus pandemic and unrest over systemic racism, the topic is all the more relevant.

“I think both of those are manifested in an overdose crisis with the racism of our drug laws and drug law enforcement. Our reporting in communities like the South Bronx and right in my backyard here in Oakland, going out and talking to people in those places who’ve been crying out for help for years and saying, ‘Our communities have been neglected,’ or when there has been attention paid to this issue, it’s been in the criminal justice issue where you have people who’ve been locked up because of drug laws,” he said.

Hamilton went on, “I think getting to the bottom of that and how how fentanyl is just sort of the latest iteration of ways to criminalize communities of color is really important and kind of an alarming takeaways from from our series. And the same goes with with Covid, looking at right now, some of the communities that have been most affected by Covid-19 are communities of color, because of healthcare disparities. I think that that we see the same issues happening where there’s just not the same level of medical care available to communities of color in the United States.”

Hamilton and his team at Vice News previously worked with Spotify on a podcast called “Chapo: Kingpin on Trial.”

Check out the exclusive trailer for “Painkiller” below.

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