John Oliver takes aim at Purdue, drug distributers' role in opioid epidemic on 'Last Week Tonight': 5 quotes

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

On Sunday, "Last Week Tonight" talk show host John Oliver deployed his incisive brand of satire in examination of the nation's opioid epidemic.

According to Mr. Oliver's research, approximately 2.6 million Americans are addicted to opioids. Additionally, 75 percent of American heroin addicts got their start with prescription pain pills.

Here are five biting quotes from John Oliver on the opioid epidemic.

1. On the news report of a dog overdosing on heroin after a bag of the narcotic was tossed over the fence of a doggy daycare:

"Rampant heroin abuse near a doggy daycare is the first case that McGruff the Crime Dog is actually qualified to solve," said Mr. Oliver.

2. Riffing on a recording of Donald Trump expressing befuddlement regarding heroin's prominence in pastoral New Hampshire:

Mr. Trump: "How does heroin work with all these beautiful lakes and trees ... it doesn't."

Mr. Oliver: "Yeah, it does though. It does. Heroin works basically everywhere, because it's heroin. It's not a cell phone. Heroin has full coverage."

3. On the difficulties of treating pain and the role of big pharma in the epidemic:

"A nuanced discussion between the medical community and the complexities of pain treatment is clearly important. The problem is that discussion became dominated by the pharmaceutical industry."

4. On Purdue Pharma's campaign to promote OxyContin:

Mr. Oliver: "They marketed it to doctor's aggressively, giving out swag like fishing hats, swing music CDs ... and OxyContin branded plush toys ... [holding an OxyContin plush Gorilla] I've got to say, Purdue, this is the perfect choice of mascot because, like a gorilla, OxyContin might seem appealing, but if you're not careful it will tear your [expletive] life apart!"

5 On the lack of availability for pain management alternatives like physical therapy in rural America:

Mr. Oliver: "Alternative pain treatments should be at least as easy to find as Waffle Houses, which, like heroin, are both hazardous to your health and dangerously addictive."

To watch "Last Week Tonight's" story on the opioid epidemic, click here.

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