Brow Beat

John Oliver Goes After the Sackler Family With Help From a Famous TV Drug Dealer

When they eventually make a movie about the Sackler family, casting directors will have four very different options to choose from to play Richard Sackler, thanks to Last Week Tonight. John Oliver revisited the opioid crisis on Sunday, and while he criticized Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, he reserved his most vehement criticism for Purdue Pharma.

First, though, Oliver dismissed the idea that pharmaceutical companies can be trusted to regulate themselves when it comes to addictive painkillers. “If the bears in your zoo get out at night and start mauling the other animals, you don’t deputize one of the bears to monitor the situation,” he said. “I know what you’re thinking: But John, I’ve already bought him a little sheriff’s outfit to wear, and I think he’d look great in it. Of course he would, but at the end of the day, bears are gonna bear.”

To dramatize how Sackler has responded to opioid addiction, Oliver recruited Michael Keaton, Bryan Cranston, Michael K. Williams, and Richard Kind to read extracts from Sackler’s emails and depositions. Hey, as long as Sackler insists on keeping video of his testimony sealed, you can’t prove he wasn’t sloppily eating a turkey sandwich at the time.