John Oliver: Big Pharma Is Like Your High School Boyfriend, Only Concerned with “Getting Inside You”

Following a three-month hiatus, John Oliver has returned with a brilliant takedown against pharmaceutical companies and the billions of dollars executives pump into peddling drugs to doctors around the country.

“Drug companies are a bit like high school boyfriends,” Oliver explained on Last Week Tonight. “They’re much more concerned with getting inside of you than being effective once they’re in there.”

According to one report referenced on Sunday’s show, nine out of ten drug companies allocate significantly more on marketing than actual scientific research–a practice Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently announced she is working to reverse. Much of the money is spent on attractive representatives, many of whom are clueless to the products they’re selling, to push the drugs. Some reps even dangle complimentary meals to persuade doctors into cashing in.

“If Charlie Manson brought me a free lunch everyday, I’d at least listen to his sales pitch on forehead swastikas.”


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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