John Oliver, the noted Super Bowl aficionado and one true Christian Grey, took on another big issue during Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight. This time, he tackled a topic in my wheelhouse as a writer who also works in a drug store: the uninformed-but-attractive drug reps who peddle questionable, overpriced treatments to doctors who love a free lunch.
As Oliver said after pointing out the sad statistic that nine of the top 10 drug companies spend more on marketing than they do on research: “Drug companies are like high school boyfriends. They’re much more concerned with getting inside you than being effective once they’re in there.”
And he was just as funny when talking about drug companies encouraging off-label uses, meaning that the drug being used for conditions other than the one it was originally tested and FDA approved for: “You can’t just give people potentially dangerous drugs and see what happens. You’re a Fortune 500 company, not a white guy with dreadlocks at Burning Man.” To be fair, just about every drug has some effective off-label uses, but it’s rare for any company to shell out $100,000+ to secure a new approval for an already FDA-approved drug.
The segment wraped up with a recommendation to check out the federal website tracking any freebies your doctor received, followed by a comedy sketch starring Brian Huskey as a bribed doctor who is making it rain.