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Meet the Author – Philip Eil

April 25 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Join us on Thursday, April 25th at 6:00 p.m. for a reading and discussion with Philip Eil, author of Prescription for Pain.

Prescription for Pain: How a Once-Promising Doctor Became the “Pill Mill Killer” by Philip Eil

“After discovering his father’s one-degree-of-separation from Dr, Paul Volkman — the infamous ‘Pill Mill Killer’ sentenced to four consecutive life terms for his leading role in the country’s deadly opioid epidemic — journalist Phil Eil plunged into an investigation of the sensational case. The result is this eye-opening, immensely readable work of first-person reportage. Told at a galloping pace, his book not only takes the reader inside the seamy but highly lucrative world of cash-on-the-barrelhead painkiller prescribers but explores the mindset of a once-promising physician who — even while persuading himself that he was relieving his patients of suffering — turned himself into a dispenser of death.” — Harold Schechter, author of The Serial Killer Files

An obsessive true crime investigation of a bizarre and unlikely perpetrator, who’s serving the opioid epidemic’s longest term for illegal prescriptions — four life sentences.

Written in the tradition of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and True Crime Addict, combining Dopesick‘s heart rending portrayal of the epidemic’s victims with Empire of Pain‘s examination of its perpetrators.

This haunting and propulsive debut follows a journalist’s years-long investigation into his father’s old classmate: former high school valedictorian Paul Volkman, who once seemed destined for greatness after earning his MD and his PhD from the prestigious University of Chicago, but is now serving four consecutive life sentences at a federal prison in Arizona.

Volkman was the central figure in a massive “pill mill” scheme in southern Ohio. His pain clinics accepted only cash, employed armed guards, and dispensed a torrent of opioid painkillers and other controlled substances. For nearly three years, Volkman remained in business despite raids by law enforcement and complaints from patients’ family members. Prosecutors would ultimately link him to the overdose deaths of 13 patients, though investigators explored his ties to at least 20 other deaths.

This groundbreaking book is based on 12 years of correspondence and interviews with Volkman. Eil also traveled to 19 states, interviewed more than 150 people, and filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration that led to the release of nearly 20,000 pages of trial evidence.

The American opioid epidemic is, like this book, a true crime story. Through this one doctor’s story, an era of unfathomable tragedy is brought down to a tangible, and devastating, human scale.

Philip Eil is an award-winning freelance journalist based in his hometown, Providence, Rhode Island. He is the former news editor of the alt-weekly newspaper, The Providence Phoenix. Since the paper’s close in 2014, he has contributed to The Atlantic, Men’s Health, the Boston Globe, Huffington Post, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among other outlets. He has also taught writing and journalism classes at Brown University, Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and the Rhode Island School of Design. He holds an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the Columbia University School of the Arts. This is his first book.


April 25
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Books on the Square
471 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02906 United States
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