Speed Reads

The Daily Showdown

The Daily Show declares war on (prescription) drugs

America has a drug problem. Well, it probably has several drug problems, but on Tuesday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart and correspondent Michael Che looked at one in particular: The rise in addiction to and misuse of prescription opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. The epidemic of prescription painkillers has led to soaring health costs and a spike in fatal overdoses, explained Danny Chou, a lawyer for California's Santa Clara County, which is suing drugmakers for deceptive practices regarding their prescription narcotics.

A medical researcher, Dr. Peter Gotzsche, told Che that pharmaceutical companies are like drug cartels, and he's serious. A former Eli Lilly executive, now hiding in Sweden, said that drugmakers can buy off anyone. This got Che a little paranoid, but he did find one person, former FDA official Peter Pitts, to stand up for Big Pharma — but the look on Pitts' face when Che asks him if anyone is paying him to say that might be the most damning part of the segment. --Peter Weber