Delving into the opioid epidemic


Source: Netflix.

A new show called ‘The Pharmacist’ has dropped on Netflix… so what’s it about and how does it portray the profession?

A Netflix original docuseries called The Pharmacist has been released on the online streaming channel this week.

The series focuses on Dan Schneider, a pharmacist from New Orleans, who in 1999 found himself faced with every parent’s nightmare.

His eldest son, in his 20s at the time, was found dead after heading to New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward to buy illicit drugs.

Schneider and his wife Annie had no idea their son was battling drug addiction.

In an effort to make sense of the tragedy, the grieving father began canvassing the neighbourhood to search for eyewitnesses and track down his son’s killer.

While the first half of the show focuses on this search for justice, the second part delves into deeper exploration of the opioid crisis in the US.

After settling back into work following the death of his son, Schneider began noticing a pattern.

“At first my mission was to get justice for my son. But then, I started noticing in the drugstore, an unusual amount of high-powered opiate prescriptions,” he said.

A registered pharmacist since 1975, Schneider said: “Addiction was not spoken of in pharmacy school. It’s not something we thought we’d have to face as a pharmacist on the counter. I realised how blind I had been to the addiction problem.

“I started noticing a lot of kids around my son’s age 18, 19, 20, 25 year olds, health people coming in with high-powered opiate prescriptions for OxyContin.

“I was haunted by the fact that, in their faces, I could sort of see my son.”

In the documentary he alleges that a local doctor was using her licence to “decimate his community” through the overprescribing of OxyContin.

“I ran a printout to find out how many OxyContin prescriptions we were filling at [the pharmacy],” says Schneider, who is portrayed as a man of deep integrity and tenacity.

The series explores what Schneider discovered after he began using his role as a pharmacist to further investigate what was going on in his community regarding overprescribing of opioids.

The docuseries also highlights the role of OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, which in September last year filed for bankruptcy as part of a preliminary agreement for settling massive opioid litigation facing the company.

Purdue has been forced to settle thousands of lawsuits alleging the company misled doctors and the public as it promoted its opioid painkillers including OxyContin – actions which it is alleged helped ignite the opioid epidemic.

Other pharmaceutical manufacturers have also been sued over their role in the opioid epidemic.

Netflix has a track record of releasing true crime documentaries that have drummed up a great deal of controversy and interest, including Making a Murderer and The Staircase, among others. It has also released other documentaries on the opioid epidemic including Heroin(e) and Recovery Boys.

Watch The Pharmacist here

Have you watched the show? Let us know what you think below

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