Watch John Oliver Slam Big Pharma in His Triumphant Return to 'Last Week Tonight'

Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube

It's been roughly three months, but late-night satirical news comedian John Oliver is back for season two of Last Week Tonight and wasting no time getting down to business — although he did note that "much like Brian Williams, I voluntarily took myself off the air after it emerged I presented false information to you last year." The topic? Hamster genitalia. 

But with "that out of the way, with trust rebuilt," Oliver went digging right back into some serious issues, including the problems surrounding the country's large pharmaceutical industry.

"Drug companies are a bit like high-school boyfriends," Oliver said. "They're much more concerned with getting inside you than being effective once they're in there."

As Oliver notes, large drug companies appear more interested in selling you their current line of drugs than developing new, more effective ones. Oliver points to one study that found major pharmaceutical companies spent more than $24 billion in 2012 just on marketing to physicians — convincing your doctor to prescribe you their drugs — and another revealing that 9 out of 10 companies spent more on marketing than on researching new drugs in 2013.

Granted, these companies need to turn a profit in order to invest in new research, but Oliver points out that the problems trickle down to the consumer, who is barraged with drug ads telling them to "ask your doctor."

"Drug companies know that doctors hold all the real power in the prescription drug business," Oliver said. If pharmaceutical companies can get the doctors on their side, they can start making real money. Unfortunately, this leads to pharmaceutical reps going to great lengths to get doctors to sell their drugs, whether this means free lunches or huge speaking fees. 

To combat this, Oliver encouraged his viewers to visit the federal government's open payments website to find out exactly where their doctors stand.

It's good to have you back, John.

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Matt Essert

Matt is the news director at Mic, covering breaking news. He is based in New York and can be reached at matt@mic.com.

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