In Netflix’s ‘Pain Hustlers,’ Emily Blunt’s Liza Drake becomes the turning point in the story of Zanna Therapeutics’ sinking ship. The pharma company struggles to sell its top drug, Lonafen, but things take a sudden turn when Pete Brenner hires Liza as a sales rep, and together, they change the face of the company. As Liza becomes one of the top executives in the company, she and Brenner hire new people to expand their sales rep team.
Liza’s mother, Jackie, knows how much money her daughter makes in the job, and she, too, wants to be a part of it. So, defying company policy, Liza hires her mother as a sales rep. At first, it doesn’t seem like much, but it becomes a critical plot point by the end of the film. Here’s everything you need to know about the real person who loosely inspired Jackie’s character.
Jackie Drake is Inspired by a Sales Rep who Left a Paper Trail of Evidence Towards Insys Owner
‘Pain Hustlers’ presents a fictionalized version of Insys Therapeutics and adds its own twist to certain events and characters. Jackie Drake is inspired by a real person but receives a complete rewrite of the background and other character details. While it has not been confirmed by the filmmakers, Jackie is most likely based on Susan Beisler, a New Jersey-based pharma rep for Insys, who was allegedly in direct contact with John Kapoor, the head of Insys.
In the movie, Jack Neel escapes accountability on the basis that there is no paper trail tying him to the malpractice that was prevalent in his company. The blame is placed on Pete Brenner, and the prosecution cannot find any evidence tying things to Neel because he was very strict about security. In real life, too, Kapoor is said to have kept a distance from things, or at least enough distance for nothing to be tied to him directly. Much like Brenner, Alec Burlakoff is said to have been the one who took the fall for the “speaker programs.” There were no emails or anything that could be traced back to Kapoor because he would only receive printed documents, but the prosecution couldn’t provide any evidence that such documents existed or if Kapoor actually saw them.
It was Kapoor’s email transactions with Susan Beisler that eventually opened the door to his conviction. In the movie, Jackie has a fling with Neel, and she later pesters him with emails about the unfairness of the speaker programs, which don’t give the opportunity to sales reps like her to make more money. In real life, too, Beisler sent emails to Kapoor complaining about the unfairness that certain reps received because their doctors were paid for speaker programs.
One such email read: “Nobody has offered my doctors unlimited speaker programs to put them in the top ten . . . And that’s why some reps are VERY UNFAIRLY in the top ten that shouldn’t be??” It is unconfirmed whether Beisler and Kapoor had more than a professional relationship, but it is suspected that they did, considering that one mail had her writing “many hugs and kisses.”
While the Netflix film’s Jackie Drake seems to have a clear connection to Susan Beisler, ‘Pain Hustlers’ has changed quite a few things. For one, Beisler was in her early 30s when she started working at Insys, as opposed to Jackie, in her 60s, played by Catherine O’Hara. The film further fictionalizes Jackie’s backstory by making her the mother of Liza Drake, another fictional character based on real people. These changes add to the heart and soul of the movie, making us more sympathetic to the Drake family while also staying connected to the events that unfolded in real life.
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