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John Oliver Takes on Pharma Groups ‘Who Put Us in This Fuc*king Mess’ of Painkiller Addiction

The nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction was front and center during Sunday’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, who devoted his deep-dive segment to examining the role that drugs like heroin and prescription painkillers are playing today.

Oliver looked into the history of painkiller prescriptions in this country, aiming to dig at the “why” for today’s national crisis. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago when traditional thinking regarding opioids dictated that healthcare providers were so cautious that the period was known as “opiaphobia.”

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 18,893 overdose deaths in 2014 were from prescription pain relievers and an additional 10,574 overdose deaths were related to heroin.

Oliver said, “A nuanced discussion between the medical community about the complexities of brain treatment is clearly important,” noting the wild inconsistencies with these prescriptions. He continued, “[The] problem is: that discussion became dominated by the pharmaceutical industry, who started amplifying the message that opioids should not just be used for acute pain — from that of cancer or surgery — but all sorts of pain, like arthritis and backaches.”

Oliver and his team researched the history of the big pharma group Purdue, which first began marketing the healing wonders of oxycontin decades ago. A doctor on the Purdue payroll, tasked with selling the benefits of oxycontin, can be seen remarkably relaying the friendly-sounding advice that pseudo-addiction is simply “relief seeking behavior mistaken as drug addiction.”

“We have to be a lot more careful with how they’re prescribed,” Oliver concluded. “This is going to take a massive effort,” slamming the pharmaceutical groups like Purdue and Cephalon, “who put us in this fucking mess.”

Watch above via HBO.

[image via screengrab]

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