Open Letter Re: John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ Episode on Psychedelic Assisted Therapy


From Psymposia: “Last Week Tonight’s February 2023 coverage of psychedelic-assisted therapy promoted psychedelic industry talking points that overhype the science and minimize potential risks. The production team made this decision with full knowledge of the inaccuracy of that hype and the dangers it poses to the public. We know they knew about these issues, because we told them.

In October 2022, Psymposia was informed by a producer from Last Week Tonight that the show was working on a segment about psychedelic-assisted therapy that was originally scheduled for the end of that month. The producer expressed interest in learning more from Psymposia ‘about safeguards that can be put in place when the treatment becomes more widely available.’ This inquiry suggested that the production team was open to challenging the dominant media narratives, which tend to overstate the potential benefits and ignore the serious risks associated with psychedelic medicine. This felt like an opportunity to correct some of the harmful hype on a credible platform. We are publishing this open letter to highlight why we raised concerns about the rollout of psychedelic medicine to Last Week Tonight.

. . . Considering Last Week Tonight’s generally solid track record of tackling issues like corporate greedmental healthcare; the marketing and overprescription of opioidsregulatory capture; and a slew of other predatory medical industry practices (12345), it is disappointing that the show abandoned much of its own prior analyses in favor of a segment that aligns with corporate psychedelic industry hype.”

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