John Oliver Shows Us the Super Sketchy Relationship Between Drug Companies and Doctors

Damn, what a Sunday night for TV: the Grammys, series premiere of Better Call Saul, and return of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Competing with Kanye West and Breaking Bad for attention was always going to be a losing battle, but John Oliver’s latest episode certainly delivered on substance where it couldn’t keep up on hype. 

And, dare we say, it’s a must-watch before anything else from last night.

Oliver, of course, is known to take on some of the world’s most unscrupulous companies, industries, and people, and last night he took on one of the biggest malpractices and lobbying efforts in the world: the business of advertising and selling drugs to doctors for (insane) profit. 

$24 billion a year, to be exact. It’s an “ungodly sum of money,” as one Tony Robbins clone preaches to a packed room of wide-eyed future pill pushers.

Their efforts benefit from almost $330 billion of annual prescription drug spending by Americans, a number that “almost makes you feel like Walter White could have made more money cooking up Rheumatoid arthritis medication.” Recognizing that a doctor’s prescription is the one and only barrier to this ungodly pool of money, those who lobby and sell drugs on behalf of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies peddle their wares by offering anything from free lunches to Hooters excursions.

What’s truly astounding is how Oliver connects so many moving parts of a fairly complex issue while keeping every moment hilariously interesting:


Want more updates on the most Notable things happening so you know before your colleagues do? Get our exclusive newsletter here and follow us on Twitter for all the latest.