Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 6, Episode 24 - Episode #6.24 - full transcript

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight !

I'm John Oliver.
Thank you so much for joining us.

We have to dive straight in to the news
that has been dominating this week.

I'm not talking about the fact that
Nicolas Cage will be starring in "Pig",

in which he plays a truffle hunter
who wants his pig back, which he is,

and it's all I want to talk about.

Instead we have to talk about this.

The whistleblower complaint sending
shock waves through Washington.

Troubling details about the president's
phone call with the leader of Ukraine.

During the call, Mr. Trump pressured
the Ukrainian president eight times

to investigate former Vice President
Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

Eight times !

It makes sense to ask for the same
thing 8 times in a single phone call

only if you're trying to connect with
a customer service agent for AT&T !

I got you, Business Daddy ! I got you !
You genuinely bad company !

But it is true: Trump is at the center
of another looming scandal.

He's accused of withholding nearly
$400 million in military aid to Ukraine

and then using it as leverage
to get dirt on Joe Biden.

It is very, very dumb.
And you might remember,

we called his Russia scandal
"Stupid Watergate".

Which means that we now have to work
out what this sequel should be called.

We considered "Stupid Watergate II:
Look Who's Stupid (The Same Guy)",

or "S2pid Watergate"
with "2" in the word "stupid",

or "STWOpid Watergate"
with "two" in the word "stupid".

But we settled on on this: "Stupid
Watergate II: The Stupidest Watergate."

And that one went fine
until the next one comes along.

Initially, the White House
denied any wrongdoing,

releasing their account
of the president's call,

claiming that it exonerated him.

Except, when you read the account,
it emphatically does not do that.

Trump asks for Biden to be investigated
and follows it by saying:

"I'll have Mr. Giuliani
give you a call,"

"I'm going to have
Attorney General Barr call"

"and we will get
to the bottom of it."

It's impressive how thorough
that abuse of power is.

He's looping in both
someone so involved in the government

they should be nowhere
near this kind of petty dirt,

and someone
so involved in petty dirt

they should be
nowhere near the government.

And it got even worse
the next morning,

when the whistleblower's complaint
was released,

which made it pretty clear
that after the phone call,

the White House worked extremely hard
to cover its tracks.

The whistleblower says senior White
House officials worked to lock down

all records of a presidential
phone call this summer

out of fear that they had witnessed
the president abuse his office

for personal gain.

It's true, the notes from the call
were stored in a separate,

code word-level system meant
for highly classified information,

despite the fact there was
no legitimate reason to do that.

And why do that if there wasn't
something very bad in there ?

If you don't want someone to see
something embarrassing on a computer,

you just put it in a folder
labeled "Finance Records."

I wouldn't do that, my finance records
folder is too full of finance records.

Wait ! No, don't open it !
Don't open it ! No !

Okay. Here's what that is !

Yes, you have found my collection
of hamsters in little Speedos !

It's not a sex thing !
That one is a bit of a sex thing.

But we don't have time
to get into it.

Every part of this new Stupid Watergate
is dumber than you can even imagine.

Even Ukraine's president,
Volodymyr Zelensky, is ridiculous.

He actually used to be a comedian,

at one point playing
the president of Ukraine in a sitcom.

Although, my favorite fact about him
is that one of his old comedy routines

was him and another guy pretending
to play the piano with... you'll see.

Yeah, he played the piano
with his dick.

And just spare a thought
for the guy next to him,

who did that and somehow didn't
get elected president of Ukraine.

A few years later
he's stuck playing dick-music alone

at an open mic in the basement
of a Chinese restaurant.

Show business is cruel.

But even in a scandal full of absurd
figures, it is worth taking a moment

to appreciate the role played here
by Rudy Giuliani,

the New York City subway
of New York City mayors,

and a man who once
fucked his cousin.

Is that point strictly relevant ?

No. I would argue that, like Giuliani
and his first wife, it is not unrelated.

Perhaps the stupidest part
of Giuliani's involvement

is that he did this in plain sight.

He told "The New York Times"
"we are meddling in an investigation."

And he insists he did
absolutely nothing wrong.

Giuliani just did an interview
with "The Atlantic".

He seemed very angry
according to the reporter.

He said: "It is impossible that the
whistleblower is a hero and I'm not."

"And I will be the hero ! These morons,
when this is over, I will be the hero."

No you will not be.

And I'll tell you why, because
you will still be Rudy Giuliani.

Best case scenario here, you'll one
day be one of the masked singers,

people will briefly not know
that you are Rudy Giuliani,

and you will nearly be the hero.

But eventually,
you'll have to take your mask off,

and then you'll be yourself
again for the rest of your life,

and it will be fucking terrible.

Giuliani's role here
is unusual for lots of reasons.

He is not working for the government,
he's Trump's personal lawyer.

He's not being paid,
he's working for Trump for free.

Why is he doing that ?

He's going through a characteristically
messy divorce from his third wife,

with whom he has uncharacteristically
very few great-grandparents in common.

According to her, he's working pro bono
in order to reduce any future alimony.

So, the president
is paying Giuliani nothing,

and yet, I would argue,
he's still overpaying here.

One of Giuliani's reported complaints
against his wife is that she, I quote:

"Vindictively walked off with his
cable box and remote controls,"

"leaving him limited
to using his iPad to watch TV."

Rudy Giuliani, cybersecurity expert
and Donald Trump's lawyer,

is seemingly unaware that you can
buy new remote controls at Best Buy.

To recap here, it seems the president
pressured a foreign head of state

to investigate his political rival,
then his staff tried to cover it up.

And perhaps the most shocking part
of all this is, it might hurt him.

I know that you're probably thinking:

"No it won't, you fucking idiot.
Nothing Trump does ever affects him."

I get that has clearly been true,
until maybe now.

Because people
seem legitimately furious over this,

the House
has opened an impeachment inquiry,

and even a few Republicans seem to
be treading with caution for a change.

And it kind of does make you wonder:
why now ?

The president's done so many
terrible things, why this one count ?

It's hard to say, but it might be that
this one is simpler in some key ways.

'Cause unlike Trump as a candidate
asking Russia to find Hillary's emails,

if they're listening, this involves him
abusing the power of the presidency.

Unlike the meeting
with Russians at Trump Tower,

this time, Trump
was undeniably personally involved.

Unlike the multiple potential
violations of the emoluments clause,

we already have hard proof
that this happened.

Unlike Trump's treatment of migrants,

he can't claim this is just a difference
of political opinion,

he pressured Ukraine
to gain something for himself.

Unlike the Mueller Report's legalistic
descriptions of obstruction of justice,

Trump pressuring Ukraine
to get dirt on his opponent,

and then hiding the conversation,
is easy to understand.

It's just gettable. You don't need
to know any more than that

to know it's something presidents
should absolutely not be able to do.

Just like how they should
not sell the White House,

or suddenly change the
national anthem to this.

That guy might be a key player in the
impeachment of an American president !

What a fun time to be alive !

When you put all of that together,

this particular Trump scandal
does start to feel a little different.

And something that is absolutely
meriting of impeachment.

The fact that it is so consistent
with all Trump's other behavior

suggests that it is a pattern that
will continue until he leaves office,

one way or another.

It has become painfully obvious
that Trump,

much like all the TV channels
in Rudy Giuliani's house,

simply cannot be changed.

And now this !

And Now: Yet Another Installment
Of "60 Minutes" Anchors

Prompting Interviewees To Give
The Exact Soundbite They Need.

There it is, written by your own staff
and yet, nothing happened.

They closed the case.

- You're not allowed to run.
- I'm not allowed to run.

Because of this law.

Bad results.

It's possible.

It's heavy.

This is the blind mouse.

This is it ?

This is mission control.

And this is what's revealed.

All volunteers.

- Out of nowhere ?
- Out of nowhere.

- Pill spill.
- Pill spill. Huge pill spill.

Tuscany in a box.

Chateau Rudy.

Look at your own numbers.

He's only 23.


That's a lot of kids.

You got a good, comfortable chair.

- You're a handful.
- I was a handful.

The dynamic changed.

The office was more important
than the man.

Human stories are human stories.

We've got Ned's head.

- That's Ned's head ?!
- That's Ned's head.

For our main story tonight,
let's talk about pharmacies:

those places
that let you arm-fuck a robot.

Or, as some insist on calling that:
"getting your blood pressure taken."

When you picture
a pharmacy in your mind,

you probably imagine a place that
your doctor calls in a prescription,

and someone counts out pills that
were manufactured somewhere else.

But that is actually
a relatively new phenomenon.

A lot of pharmacies
used to make medication on-site,

as this old film shows.

A doctor's prescription may seem
mysterious to the average layman,

but it's very simple
to the pharmacist.

It is his responsibility to make sure
that each prescription

is filled exactly
as the doctor has ordered.

An error in the compounding
of a prescription

can be injurious
or even fatal to the patient.

"Yes, any error could be fatal,"

"which is why we only hire
nearsighted men to eyeball ratios"

"out of a series
of identical bottles."

"If that doesn't work,
do feel free to die !"

"Happy 1940s to one and all !"

While that is no longer
how it works in your local CVS,

there are places that do still
make their drugs from scratch, on-site.

They are compounding pharmacies
and they exist for a very good reason.

Compounding pharmacies
make medicine

for people whose needs cannot
be met by an FDA approved product.

Let's say you're allergic to a specific
ingredient in a pill.

Your doctor can write a prescription
tailored to your specific needs

and a compounding pharmacy
will mix it.

Compounding pharmacies
make bespoke medication.

I'd say "designer drugs" if that
phrase hadn't already been taken

by egregiously-Dutch dealers
selling pills to suburban kids.

"Dish ish da good shit. Trusht me,
it's gonna shend you to outer shpace."

"It's for you dance partiesh."

There is around 7 500 compounding
pharmacies all over this country,

and they can fill highly specific
prescriptions for all sorts of reasons.

You're having trouble swallowing pills,
they can make the drug in liquid form.

You need a drug in a lower
concentration than what's available

they can do that for you.

They do very important work.
And it is not just humans that benefit.

There are no manufactured
medications made for birds.

So, you need to go
to your compounding pharmacist

so they can make the right volume,
because it could be large,

medium, or small.

Each one might like a different flavor
or require a different volume.

She likes pina colada flavor.

Does she ? Really ?

A tropical bird
whose favorite flavor is pina colada ?

I'm just gonna say it:
that parrot is basic.

Ya basic. You're a basic bird.

As you've guessed from the fact
that we're talking about this story,

there are some huge problems here,
because compounding pharmacies

are subject to much less oversight
than large drug manufacturers.

If you get a drug that was
mass produced in a factory,

both the drug and the factory
are under a lot of scrutiny.

But if you get one
from a compounding pharmacy,

it is very different, as a former head
of the FDA will tell you.

Compounded drugs
are not FDA approved.

As commissioner of the FDA
then you can't tell us sitting here now

that every drug being used
in the US is safe and effective ?

No, I really cannot.

Holy shit ! That's kind
of startling to hear. Isn't it ?

On one level,
it does make sense

that if compounding pharmacies
are making bespoke medication,

the FDA doesn't treat them
like they're a giant manufacturer.

You wouldn't subject
Mikey's Lemonade Stand

to the same regulations
Coca-Cola has to obey

for mass-producing Minute Maid
because that would be overkill,

and besides, even if Mikey did pee
a little bit in his lemonade,

which let's face it, he definitely did,
the damage is inherently limited.

But as you will see, oversight
is so lax that compounding pharmacies

have become the wild west
of the drug industry,

resulting in fraud and,
in the worst cases, many people dying.

You may not even know
that you're taking a compounded drug.

They can be used in hospitals without
your or your doctor's knowledge.

So let's take a look
at this industry !

Let's start with the fraud.
A few years back, Tricare,

military's health insurance program,
noticed a big increase in being billed

for veterans' specially
compounded scar and pain creams.

There was a problem, as the man
who oversaw the program admitted.

Are these creams a viable alternative
for treating the pain of warriors ?

We don't have
any evidence that supports that.

He was right,
those creams were total bullshit.

One study found they didn't work
any better

than treatments that contained
no medicine at all.

It's shocking that was allowed,
and it is why I'm so excited

to announce my amazing
new pain cream, Johnny Gel.

It's great for relieving
tenderness in your back,

neck and joints, and yes,
it is just mayonnaise.

Ask your doctor if Johnny Gel
is right for you.

A number of compounding pharmacies
realized that there was a loophole,

where they could bill Tricare
for the cost of each ingredient,

so they added as many expensive
ingredients as they could.

By the time the military
realized what happened,

the costs had gotten ridiculous.

It's been an explosion of the charges
in a short period of time.

We're on track
to spend over $2 billion

unless we get our hands
around this.

$2 billion ! When we talk about
overspending in the military,

I don't think anyone would've guessed
a not-insignificant chunk of that

has gone to fucking lotion.

Even when there isn't fraud,

it is not rare for compounded
medication to be ineffective.

When the FDA tests drugs
from commercial manufacturers,

the failure rate
is typically below two percent.

But when they ran tests
on compounded drugs,

33 percent of the drugs failed,
that's one in three !

To put that in perspective,

compounded drugs have the same
failure rate as the Jonas Brothers.

We all know which one I'm talking
about. And it is not you, Kevin.

You are doing great.

He's been through enough.
You're doing really great, Kevin.

You're actually my favorite.

But a drug not working is
by no means the worst-case scenario.

You would not expect the FDA to be
testing every smallbatch drug made,

you would at least hope
that someone was making sure

the places they were made
were clean.

Conditions can be appalling,
as multiple investigations found,

with some particularly
revolting examples.

In one Miami pharmacy,
a compounded drug for lung disease

was found in the same refrigerator
as the employees' lunch.

At another pharmacy,

compounded drugs were stored
in the employees' bathroom.

It sickened me. It really did.
Bothered me a lot.

Yeah !
It should have sickened you !

'Cause you should not store an open
box of loose pills next to a toilet !

I've never been
to pharmacy school,

but I'm sure lesson one is
"Don't put the pills where you poop."

How could that happen ?
In the absence of FDA oversight,

state pharmacy boards are
supposed to send inspectors

to make sure conditions
are sanitary.

But in many states, there is
a shortage of them.

As of 2016,
Hawaii had only one inspector,

Kansas had two
and Illinois had just three

despite the fact it has
nearly 2 700 pharmacies.

Each inspector would have been tasked
with 900 locations to keep an eye on.

The only way that is possible

is if the inspectors are just texting
each pharmacy: "U good ?"

This lack of oversight can be dangerous
if a lab is producing sterile drugs

that are injected
into the body.

A few years back, one compounding
pharmacy made national headlines,

after it was found to be the source
of a massive meningitis outbreak.

The FDA is telling doctors:

don't use any products from
the New England Compounding Center.

When they went in there,
they actually found fungus in a vial

that you could see with...
the naked eye.

They saw some guck in it. They put it
under a microscope, it was a fungus.

That is disgusting.

The only worse thing to find
in a vial than visible guck

would be a visible duck.

Putting aside the issue of hygiene,
how did you miss this ?

How did you not hear the quacking ?
Your oversight's a mess !

While it would have been comfortably
bad enough if that pharmacy, NECC,

was just making drugs
for individual patients,

it was actually
producing medication in bulk,

the thing it was absolutely
not supposed to do.

Compounding pharmacies are supposed
to do small batches

based on individual prescriptions.

NECC skirted those rules
to make more money,

shipping their gucky medication
to 23 different states,

killing more than 100 people.

It's a little weird you don't
remember that story, right ?

Although to be fair, it was 2012,

and we were all distracted trying
to find Kony at the time.

Where's Kony ? Did we get him ?
Did we get Kony ?

Does anyone remember ?
It seemed so important at the time !

I bet we got him. We wouldn't have
just given up, would we ?

While regulations required
them to have an individual prescription,

they managed to get around that
by faking patient names

and not even seeming
to try that hard.

Investigators also allege that
employees falsified prescriptions

with fake names like
"Big Baby Jesus", "Roy Rogers",

"Wonder Woman"
and "Bud Weiser".

Come on ! "Bud Weiser" ? It's like
they were trying to get caught.

They also filled prescriptions with
names, and this is real,

like Jimmy Kimmel,
David Schwimmer, Michael Bolton,

Jack Bauer, Sarah Marshall,
RuPaul and Method Man.

And that is such a gloriously
random group of people.

Most people would see
no connection between them,

unless you are me and you
have some very specific,

very bold theories
about who killed JFK.

I've nearly cracked it.
None of you leave the country.

I think there may have been
a second Schwimmer !

This scheme though
was incredibly lucrative.

The president of NECC, Barry Cadden,
made over $60 million

in the three years leading up
to the outbreak.

He seemed to know
what he was doing was wrong.

He was once asked at a filmed
employee training session

about keeping records of patients,
his answer was comically suspicious.

Is it a one-to-one
on patient names ?

That's something for another time.

We can't talk about that. That's one
of the more difficult things we do.

Let's just talk
about the products now...

... while we're
being recorded.

If you are being recorded
saying you don't want to say something

while being recorded,
you've probably said too much.

This is where we keep the guns,
the ski masks...

And the big bags of money...
Where does that money come from ?

I probably shouldn't talk about that
while we're being recorded.

The defining hallmark of NECC
was how clearly everyone knew

they were breaking the law.

The company's national sales director
even sent out an email

with the unassuming subject line:

Which reads in part:

"All names must resemble 'real' names,
no obviously fake names !"

And "I know I don't have to say this
but never put anything in writing."

Which is an incredible thing
to put in writing.

Thankfully, Cadden went to prison.
Congress passed a law toughening up

enforcement of regulations
among compounding pharmacies.

Which is great, in theory.
They wrote in some massive loopholes.

The law required any pharmacy
that wanted to mass-produce drugs,

the way that NECC did,

to register as something called
an "outsourcing facility"

and submit
to much stricter inspections.

It made doing so voluntary.

If you need everyone to obey a rule,
it just can't be voluntary.

It's why stop signs say "Stop"
and not "Shrug Emoji".

Unsurprisingly, only 77 facilities
are currently registered,

that's one percent
of compounding pharmacies.

Because the FDA had no system
to catch violators,

many pharmacies carried on
exactly as they were,

with some being
pretty bold about it.

How bold ? Just watch this.

The FDA's inspection
of Downing Labs in July

found sterility failures
in 19 lots of drug products.

Ashley Downing is
the co-owner of Downing Labs.

They asked you to recall
sterile products.


- And you decided what ?
- No.

Just "no". That's it. She responded
to a request for a drug recall

the way most of us responded to seeing
the trailer for the movie "Cats".

No. I refuse to acknowledge
that this is happening. No.

She claimed the FDA
had no jurisdiction over her

and that she'd followed
all state requirements.

The FDA disagreed and while they
did manage to force her to comply,

that didn't happen until almost
a full year after that interview.

And when oversight
is this weak,

compounding pharmacies can hurt large
numbers of people for a long time.

Look at what happened in Texas
with Guardian Pharmacy Services.

This is it here. They apparently
mass produced medicine

which was injected into people's eyes
and which turned out to contain

formaldehyde and acetone,

two things pretty high up the list of
"things to keep away from your eyes",

right above jalapeno peppers
and just below the trailer for "Cats".

No. I said no.

Guardian didn't opt in
for FDA oversight,

so it was regulated at the state level
but not, it seems, very well.

70 people injected with their drugs
are now partially or completely blind.

It took six months from the first
injections for state regulators

to even be notified
there was a problem.

Which is something frustrating for
those who ended up losing their sight.

By the time Susie Pope went in for
cataract surgery at Dallas Eye Clinic,

dozens of patients
had gone before her.

How could 68 people be involved before
they pull that off the shelf ?

Many of them have
the same question.

We notice how when lettuce is bad,
we pulled it off the shelf every week.

Yeah. And of course, he's right.
It's not unreasonable to want a world

where something that's about
to be injected into your eyeball

is at least as safe as lettuce.

I'll tell you what is as safe
as lettuce and that is Johnny Gel.

Johnny Gel may not be
as safe as lettuce.

Not only did the Texas State Pharmacy
Board not shut down Guardian,

they haven't shut down a single
pharmacy in at least five years.

They did put Guardian's license
on probation.

But the man behind it shut it down
and opened up a pharmacy

called Medical Park Pharmacy
at the same location.

So, their door simply
changed from this, to this.

And it is hard to notice any
meaningful differences there,

even if you weren't blinded
by tainted eye medication.

Compounded pharmacists
play an important role.

That is all the more reason
why they should be regulated.

So, at the very least, we need
more inspectors at the state level,

the outsourcing facility designation
should not be voluntary

and compounders should have
to alert regulators

whenever they fuck up.

Until then, bad facilities
could probably really benefit

from a message from some of the very
real names that they've thrown around

in their nonsense prescriptions.

I'm David Schwimmer.

I'm Method Man.

I am obviously RuPaul.

I'm Jimmy Kimmel, America's
favorite late-night host, by far.

And I'm the one and only
Michael Bolton.

We'd like to say a few words
to compounding pharmacies.

Please don't use our names in your
bullshit prescriptions.

We're not random words to be thrown
around so you can evade the law.

We're real people.

Some of us are.
Like me, "Jack Bauer".

And me, "Sarah Marshall".

Who ?

Do not tell me you forgot
Sarah Marshall.

You're the one who broke up
with Jason Segal's dick.

Sure did.

The point is, we're mad.

Real mad.

Our names don't belong on
your fraudulent spinal medication.

Mine belongs on a platinum album.

Mine belongs on the list of America's
top pretend paleontologists.

And mine belongs on the Emmy
for "Outstanding Variety Talk Series"

that somebody else keeps winning.

Stop using our names to turn
your compounding pharmacy

into an unregulated
drug manufacturer.

While we're at it,
don't even think about

trying to sell us any of that
$15 000 skin cream.

Don't want to be involved
in your lotion scam.

No, honey. I am not getting mixed up
in your ointment scheme. Goodbye.

If you're an outsourcing facility,
let yourself be regulated like one.

If you don't...

I will tie you up in a dark basement
in southern Turkmenistan

and inflict a level of pain on you
you could not imagine

in your darkest,
most terrifying nightmares.

Jesus Christ.

We need to make sure that compounded
drugs are coming from labs

that fully comply
with safety guidelines.

Lots of people
need compounded drugs.

And it's not just people.
My bird needs them, too.

Yeah, my... What ?
Michael Bolton has a parrot ?

Of course I do. I love parrots.
Do people not realize

that "How Am I Supposed to Live
Without You ?" is about a lady parrot ?

I loved that parrot.
And she left me.

She did leave him... For me.
Fuck you, Michael Bolton.

Yeah, fuck you, Michael Bolton.

Fuck you !

Until you're better regulated,

you should stick to what
you were designed to do.

Making pina coladas for birds.

I miss you.

What the fuck ?

That's our show, thanks for watching.
See you next week ! Good night !

Girl, look. I'm a queen.

I've been involved with
some real shady schemes, okay ?

But I'm not getting mixed up
in some shady ointment scheme !

Ointment scheme ?

Ointment scheme ?
Please !

I'm not opposed to schemes.
I'm a queen.

But I'm not getting mixed up
in some shady ointment scheme.

Ointment scheme ?
Please !