Super Depressing Deep Dive - Opioid Epidemic in America

August 17, 2016 - Lewis Black 08/17/2016 Views: 2,292

The Nightly Show investigates the cause of America's worsening opioid addiction crisis. (4:53)

Welcome back!

Now, a lot of peoplehave told me

that they're depressedabout our show getting canceled,

so we thoughtwe'd cover a subject

that will make you even moredepressed-- the opioid epidemic.

That's right. It's timefor our last Nightly Show

Super Depressing Deep Dive.Take a look.

MALE NARRATOR: Hi. Hey, you good? Not for long.

Welcome to another Nightly Show

Super Depressing Deep Dive.

Everyone's talking about them.

One of the greatest publichealth crises of our time,

the opioid epidemic.

MAN: An epidemic of drug abuse.

We are seeing more people killed

because of opioid overdosethan traffic accidents.

(tires squealing, static)

NARRATOR: So how did this happen?

It starts with pain.

-(groaning) -People hate pain, mainly because it's painful,

and opioids take that pain and turn it into...

♪ Magic body warmth!

Opioids are any opium-like compound, like morphine,

invented in 1827 and advertised to children.

Yes, that baby won't cry.

Well, until you take away its sweet, sweet morphine.


In 1898, Bayer tried

to make a less-addictive morphine called... heroin.

♪ Heroin!

Now, selling legal heroin may sound crazy,

but this is during the time

when you could get cocaine in Coca-Cola, and doctors thought

your skull shape determined how smart you were.


In the 1970s and '80s, most doctors avoided opioids

as long-term pain relief

because of the whole addiction thing.

But in 1995, Purdue Pharmaceuticals--

sadly not a branch of Perdue Chicken--

marketed the safest opioid of all.

♪ Oxycontin! Oxycontin!

And everyone was happy and pain-free forever. The end.

JK. Pain is life. It will never go away.

-Like U2 and Guy Fieri. -(boy shouts)

And hey, it turns out Oxycontin is crazy addictive,

but to make it seem mega-awesome, Purdue handed out

branded promotional items, like fishing hats and CDs.

Yes, that's the title. It isn't even clever,

like Oxycontin-Eyed Joe!

There were also plush toys,

which we couldn't find images of,

so we assume they look like this.

TOY BEAR:Hug me. I can't feel pain.

(winding down):I'm a bear...

And to help ease everyone's fear of addiction,

Purdue created videos with super trustworthy dudes.

They don't wear out.They go on working.

They do not haveserious medical side effects.

Thank you kindly, doctor-type guy

who was totally not paid to say that.

I bet he was paid to say that.

A year later, opioid prescriptions

jumped by $11 million.

Those are some Viagra-level numbers, but without the ads

that make you think of your parents doing it.

Sales of Oxycontin went from $44 million in 1996...

MAN:Triple-decker yacht money! $1.5 billion in 2002.

MEN:Ya-Ya-Yacht jet!

By 2012, doctors wrote more than 259 million prescriptions

for opioids-- enough to give a bottle

to every adult in America.

You don't have to be a chicken scientist

to know that when everyone's got opioids,

opioid overdoses are going to skyrocket.

More than 165,000 people have died of causes

related to painkiller use since 1999,

including the men who love to party like it's 1999.

NEWSWOMAN: Tests show the music icon Prince

died of an opioid overdose.

NARRATOR: That's right, those greedy drug company bastards

mother(bleep) killed...

Mother(bleep) Prince.

Jesus (bleeping)...

(man grunting à la Prince)

Or... maybe the drug companies didn't know.

Maybe they were innocent pawns

in this game of chance we call life.

I'm just playing. Of course they knew.

The L.A. Times reported that Purdue marketed Oxycontin

as a 12-hour drug when they knew

it often only worked for eight, leading patients

to experience withdrawal and want higher,

more dangerous doses-- which means we were lied to

by kindly CD-hat doctor-type guy.

They do not haveserious medical side effects.

What the (bleep), dude? They hid the evidence

of illegal Oxy rings, and in 2007,

they lost a $635 million lawsuit

and three executives pleaded guilty in misbranding the drug

and downplaying the risk of addiction.

Even Big Tobacco was like, "Damn, you guys are scumbags."

That lawsuit was known years ago,

but we're only addressing this crisis now. Why?

For the first timein any first-world country,

the death rate for white,

middle-aged peopleis on the rise.

Yep, opioids became a national epidemic

-because it became a... -♪ White people problem

♪ Ba, ba, ba, ba.

Hashtag it. Now hospitals and doctors

feel super bad about hurting white people,

so they're cracking down on overprescribing and abuse.

So... is it all better?

-(children cheer) -Yeah. Wait.

No. Because when addicts stop getting opioids,

they turn to the next best thing.

♪ Heroin...

That's right, our old friend heroin is back.

It's like opioid fast food--

cheap, easy, and it's colorful mascots

will haunt your nightmares for eternity.

So now there's a new white people problem.

The Nantucket Polo Club is full of heroin addicts.

(horses neighing)

And if that wasn't fun enough, Big Pharma still makes billions

off our pain by selling opioids,

and we still don't have an effective,

non-addictive chronic pain medication.

Now we just have heroin killing more people than ever.

Depressed? Good.

Then my job here is done.

This has been another Nightly Show

Super Depressing Deep Dive. Sweet dreams.

-(whooping, cheering, applause)-Yep, I think we're all now

sufficiently depressed.We'll be right back.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)