Painkiller: Is Cassy Chism Based on a Real Person? How Did She Die?

Netflix’s ‘Painkiller’ follows the events surrounding the opioid crisis through a fictional lens. Tracing its origins, the show takes us into the lion’s den as we follow Richard Sackler, who comes up with the idea of OxyContin, the drug that would change the face of Purdue Pharma. Sackler is focused on building upon the legacy of his uncle, Arthur Sackler, and doesn’t care about the effect that a drug like OxyContin can have on people using it.

Even though he, and other executives at Purdue, were repeatedly warned, they didn’t stop and did everything in their power to get the drug into the market and encouraged doctors to prescribe it to their patients. The more OxyContin was sold, the more money Purdue made. They didn’t care about the fact that thousands of people had their lives destroyed because of it. One of the victims of their corporate greed was Cassy Chism. If you want to know more about her, we’ve got you covered.

How did Cassy Chism Die?

Cassy Chism died at the age of 42 in 2019. The exact cause of her death is not known, but it was confirmed by one of her family members that Cassy was wearing a fentanyl patch at the time of her death. Cassy’s problem with opioids began in 2007. She was hospitalized for an ulcer that burst. She was in a medically induced coma for eight days and was hospitalized for over a month. The surgery caused her further health issues, for which she would be in and out of the hospital for the coming years. During this time, she was put on heavy medication, and her family noted that the doctors were not concerned about monitoring the use of her medications, which would sometimes lead to side effects.


After seven years of medication, Cassy became addicted to pills, which completely changed her behavior. Her family and friends found her turning into someone they knew she wasn’t. They tried to help her but reportedly ran into problems with HIPAA. Still, Cassy was focused on getting better, though she worried that she was declining. She bravely fought through the withdrawals and hoped doctors would adopt new and better ways to help patients through it. When Cassy died, she was weaning off the heavy medication that had been a part of her life for so long. According to her family, she talked to them about she hadn’t been feeling well and felt that something was off.

Cassy’s family and friends remember her as an “outgoing, vibrant, and always fabulous” person who was passionate about her life and work. She took acting lessons from a young age and appeared as an extra in ‘The Wonder Years’ and ‘Blow.’ She was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and had also worked on music videos. She was also passionate about helping people and cared about social issues. She was highly compassionate towards animals and supported PETA. Even in her most difficult moments, she thought about making the world a better place.

Read More: Painkiller: Is Christopher Trejo Based on a Real Person? How Did He Die?