John Oliver revisited the opioid epidemic in his Aug. 8 episode of “Last Week Tonight” and this time, he fully focused on the Sackler family which founded and owns Purdue Pharma — one of the biggest companies responsible for getting millions of Americans hooked on lethal prescription painkillers like oxycodone.
This is Oliver’s third time talking about the country’s opioid problem on his HBO show. By 2019, over 130 people were dying daily from opioid overdoses and Purdue Pharma in November 2020 pled guilty to three federal felony charges and agreed to pay an $8 million fine.
Purdue also filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and the proposed settlement would see the Sackler family paying $4.5 billion in exchange for immunity from any pending or future lawsuits against them for their role in the opioid epidemic. The Sacklers would also relinquish all ownership or control over Purdue — but the bulk of the company’s founding family’s wealth remains untouched.
The Purdue bankruptcy hearings are expected to begin Aug. 12, which is part of the reason Oliver chose to revisit the topic now. In his show Sunday night, Oliver pointed out that while Purdue Pharma the company filed for bankruptcy, almost $11 billion was transferred from the company to the Sackler family during a 10-year period from 2008 to about 2018 — all money that’s protected from being tied up in the bankruptcy suit.
Naturally, the Sacklers’ culpability in the opioid epidemic and overall unlikability as, well, pill-pushing billionaires at least partly responsible for hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths has built up some pretty intense negative public opinion. The family launched the website Judgeforyourselves.info, a repository of pro-Sackler propaganda designed to make themselves, uh, look less terrible. Oliver seized on this and noted that it’s ironic for a family to spend millions on lawyers but not also spend the chump change to register with a legitimate .com website address.
And, never one to miss an opportunity to publicly dunk on someone, Oliver had his team go ahead and buy the almost identical domain Judgeforyourselves.com in hopes that people will redirect there.
“Despite spending millions of dollars in creating a website filled with legal propaganda, they still somehow couldn’t scrape up the $2,500 required to buy the .com for it,” Oliver said. “I happen to know exactly how much it costs it because that is how much we spent to buy it.”
Check out the website here.
The “Last Week Tonight” host is using the website as a place to share the truth about the Sackler family’s role in the opioid epidemic and the stories of families who have lost loved ones to opioid overdoes. The site will also to link to the eventual online archive where over 30 million documents from the Sackler family’s time running Purdue will be released as part of the settlement.
Oliver continued, “I know that it does absolutely nothing to even the scales here, but it does give me the tiniest bit of comfort to imagine it might irritate the Sacklers a bit to know when people go to that site, this is what they’re going to see. All of this will be up as long as we own the domain, and this is at least something the Sacklers cannot throw their dirty at and make it go away.”
Oh, and there’s a familiar face promoting Oliver’s new site — iconic actor Richard Kind. Kind has lent his voice to a litany of Pixar films including “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life” and “Inside Out,” and now he’s got a short gig playing Purdue Pharma president Richard Sackler.
Oliver then threw to Kind wearing a suit and lounging in an easy chair who said, “Hi, it’s me, Richard Sackler. Welcome to the premiere source of information on the Sackler family that you can find on the internet. It’s called judgeforyourself.com, but you’ve got to get the .com! What kind of f—ing idiot would set up an important website and not buy the .com?”
Kind added, “If you want the truth, you’ve come to the right place… so poke around, get a sense of what my terrible family has done.”
Watch the full segment above.