Winner 2009

The OxyContin Express

Vanguard on Current TV

Fifty physicians in the United States write the most prescriptions for Oxycodone. All reside in Florida. Thirty-three of them practice in Broward County, where there are more than 100 “pain clinics.” Seventy-five percent of drug deaths in Florida are related to prescription pills. Eleven people die from overdoses each day. These are only some of the grinding details presented and thoroughly examined in The OxyContin Express, an installment of Current TV’s Vanguard series. These and a host of related factual issues are matched by personal stories of addiction, death and, if things work out, recovery. Correspondent Mariana van Zeller is the “tour guide” to the South Florida mecca for legal drug dealing. To the great credit of this series and this installment, her work does not stop there. She travels north following the “express” that runs into mountain hollows and small towns. Residents there regularly visit Florida to purchase pills for distribution and personal use, and that trafficking has taken a terrible toll. The enabling condition for these pill markets is the lack of reliable drug prescription monitoring systems. Fortunately, the Florida legislature was changing this system as the program concluded its investigation. For a detailed, precise account of a major social problem, a Peabody Award is presented to The OxyContin Express.


Executive Producer: Adam Yamaguchi. Producers: Cerissa Tanner, Darren Foster, Mariana van Zeller. Directors: Darren Foster, Cerissa Tanner. Writers: Darren Foster, Cerissa Tanner, Mariana van Zeller. Reporter: Mariana van Zeller. Videographers: Darren Foster, Cerissa Tanner. Editors: Mariana van Zeller, Benita Sills.