Stephen Colbert tackled the opioid crisis and took aim at Big Pharma in a sobering Late Show segment Friday.
“There are certain subjects that are genuinely hard to talk about like, the opioid crisis. It’s an epidemic that affects both political parties, Republican, Democrat, rich people, poor people, it does not discriminate,” Colbert said.
“And a lot of people blame Big Pharma, but only because it’s their fault.”
Colbert then called out Purdue, the pharmaceutical company run by the Sackler family that introduced OxyContin. The host noted that there have been many lawsuits against Purdue for obscuring OxyContin’s addictive nature, even as their sales reps used the words “street value,” “crush” and “snort” in the late Nineties. “That’s what happens when the head of sales is El Chapo,” Colbert said.
In 2007, Purdue pled guilty to misleading regulators about OxyContin’s potential for abuse and was fined $600 million. “You know you’ve been bad when the government fines you one aircraft carrier,” the host said. “Of course, this same time they made $35 billion.”
After noting how the Sackler family has eyes on global expansion, Colbert stated how “it was revealed just this week that they own a second, secret company Rhodes Pharma, a little-known Rhode Island-based drugmaker that is among the largest producers of off-patent generic opioids in the U.S.”
“Another not-so-fun fact about Rhodes Pharmaceuticals is in addition to selling all these off-brand opiates, they also just patented a new drug to help wean addicts off opioids,” Colbert said.
“So, the Sacklers addicted the country to opioids, now they’re going to profit off the cure? That takes a pair of swingin’ Sacklers.”