“The Pharmacist” cracks down on the Opioid Crisis


Photo Courtesy_ Youtube Netflix

Dan Schneider, a pharmacist from Louisiana, investigates his son’s murder during a drug deal gone wrong.

Dan Schneider is a pharmacist from the small town of Poydras, Louisiana, located near New Orleans. He lived a quaint and comfortable life in St. Bernard Parish, a nice NOLA neighborhood with his wife, son and daughter. However, in 1999, tragedy struck when his son was unjustly murdered. Schneider’s story of anguish extends beyond the boundaries of his community, touching the hearts and souls of so many Americans who have also lost loved ones due in part to the opioid epidemic. 

“The Pharmacist” is a mini-docuseries directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, produced by Cinemart and released on Netflix  Feb. 5. 

Schneider’s son was trying to purchase crack-cocaine in an impoverished community known as the ninth ward when he was fatally shot by a local drug dealer. Grief-stricken, Schneider launches his own investigation and records this journey on film or an audio cassette, providing details that other documentaries could only dream of offering. 

The documentary opens with aerial shots of St. Bernard Parish, then quickly shifting to Schneider’s dimly lit desk, strewn with papers, notes and cardboard boxes containing other files. When the camera finally greets Schneider face to face, there is a warm and tender glow to him that strikes the audience immediately. With tearfully kind eyes and an open heart, it becomes clear that Schneider hopes that sharing his story will bring awareness to the dangers of addictive medications. 

In terms of storytelling, “The Pharmacist” is riveting, with perfectly crafted cliffhangers at the end of each hour-long episode, spurring viewers to continue watching until the mini-series is over. The production of the show shines during the intimate interviews with Schneider, his son’s murderer and the witness. Each interview is not only informative but audaciously personal and vulnerable, making you feel like you literally sat down with them on the other side of the table for a few hours. 

At the end of the series, Schneider reveals that his work is not yet done; the opioid crisis is still ongoing, especially because of natural disasters that hit the NOLA area. Schneider is a daunting hero who faces the system and world fearlessly; his story deserves to be shared with everyone around the world. 

As a Pharmacy (PharmD) major, this documentary only affirmed my understanding of how dangerous the implications of medicine can be, and how minuscule the difference between saving and ending a life is. As pharmacy students, we are trained from the first year to understand the pain and needs of patients as best we can, and to also use our knowledge of medicine to develop the best treatments and action plans suited specifically for each patient. “The Pharmacist” highlights how any individual, such as Dan Schneider, can completely change the course of tragedy just by paying attention to small details and courageously acting on their own intuition.