Brow Beat

John Oliver Explains How Certain Pharmacies Get Away With Fraud and Worse

Compounding pharmacies do the important work of tailoring medications to the needs of a particular patient, but as John Oliver points out on Last Week Tonight, they’re not as regulated as the major drug manufacturing companies, which opens them up to all sorts of problems. For instance, a study found that custom compounded pain creams were no more effective than using a placebo, but the pharmacies making them exploited a loophole that allowed them to bill the military for using unnecessary expensive ingredients.

That gave Oliver an idea for a new product: Johnny Gel. “It’s great for relieving tenderness in your back, neck, and joints,” he said. “And yes, it is just mayonnaise.” But as goofy as some of these crimes—like using a celebrity’s name or just writing “Big Baby Jesus” on a fake prescription— might sound, they’re actually serious offenses that can harm and even kill patients, Oliver explains. He then calls for backup from the likes of Kristen Bell, RuPaul, Michael Bolton, and other famous people whose names have been abused in the name of profit. Jimmy Kimmel even turns up to crack a joke about losing the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Talk Series to Oliver.