John Oliver blasts pharma's role in U.S. opioid epidemic: "This is happening everywhere"

"Some towns have been devastated," Oliver warned

Published October 24, 2016 11:51AM (EDT)

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver on Sunday devoted his main segment to America's wide-reaching opioid epidemic.

"As of 2015, an estimated 2.6 million Americans were addicted to" opioids, Oliver noted, citing SAMHSA numbers. "And they're now involved in almost 30,000 overdose deaths a year in the U.S."

"This is happening everywhere," he added. "The odds are, right now you probably know someone who is struggling or who has died from an opioid addiction. Some towns have been devastated."

Among the devastated towns is Huntington, West Virginia, where in August 26 people overdosed on heroin in a span of 24 hours.

"A nuanced discussion between the medical community about the complexities of pain treatment is clearly important," Oliver said. "Its problem is, that discussion became dominated by the pharmaceutical industry, who started amplifying the message that opioids should not be used just for acute pain like that from cancer or surgery, but for all sorts of pain like arthritis and backaches."

"Which makes sense as a motive coming from the pharma industry. End of life pain care is a narrow business. It's hard to make a lot of money off of a product exclusively marketed to people who are close to death," he continued. "Honestly, I don't know how Fox News even does it."

By Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

MORE FROM Brendan Gauthier

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Heroin John Oliver Last Week Tonight Opioid Pharmaceutical Industry