John Oliver Returns to the Sackler Family and the Opioid Crisis

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John Oliver Returns to the Sackler Family and the Opioid Crisis

If there’s one thing you can always count on John Oliver for, it’s picking you up when you’re feeling down. Sure, anti-vaxxers and the rise of variants are going to prolong this pandemic for the foreseeable future, and yeah, the UN basically just confirmed that we’ve fucked our climate for good, but hey, remember the opioid crisis? Well, it’s as bad as it’s ever been, Oliver is here to remind us, and the people responsible will pretty much never face any substantial consequences for it. Thanks for getting our mind off that other stuff, John!

Last night Last Week Tonight devoted its main segment to the opioid crisis for the third time, spending over 20 minutes on the latest turns in this ongoing health crisis. He focused on the people who are most responsible, the Sackler family of Purdue Pharma, who heavily pushed OxyContin to healthcare professionals starting in the ‘90s. As Oliver explains, despite being hit with hundreds of lawsuits and Purdue’s bankruptcy filing, the Sacklers are maneuvering to minimize their own personal liability, both financially and criminally, as part of a settlement in which they’ll kick in almost $4.5 billion—or less than half of their fortune. As part of that settlement, they’re trying to ensure that they can’t legally be held responsible for opioid issues in any future lawsuits. So they’d still be multibillionaires, and wouldn’t have to worry about any further legal repercussions for their role in greatly popularizing the use of opioids like OxyContin. Yeah, that sucks!

Still, Oliver does all this in a way that will make you laugh through your clenched jaw and gritted teeth. Angry laughing is still laughing, and there’s still not enough of that going around today. So if this seems like something you can watch without getting too sad or furious, check out the full video below.