Who Is Dan Schneider? Meet The Pharmacist Who Took On Opioid Industry After Son's Death In Netflix's 'The Pharmacist'

Photo: Netflix
Who Is Dan Schneider? Meet The Pharmacist Who Took On Opioid Industry After Son's Death In Netflix's 'The Pharmacist'
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Dan Schneider is a Louisiana pharmacist and father of two. In 1999, he and his family suffered a tragic loss when his son Danny was shot in Louisiana's 9th Ward, outside of New Orleans, during a drug deal gone wrong. The family hadn't even known that he had a problem with drugs. In the wake of the shooting, Schnieder was determined to get answers he pursued the investigation for a year and a half, despite reluctance from the police to help him. Danny's murderer was eventually identified and convicted.

RELATED: Who Is Jacqueline Cleggett? Horrifying Details About Pill Mill Opioid Doctor In Netflix's 'The Pharmacist'

But after he solved his son's homicide and came to terms with Danny's addiction, he realized that there was a new addiction problem affecting his community of St. Bernard parish: the opioid epidemic. In an effort to spare other families the pain of losing a child to addiction, Schnieder began working to curtail the flow of opioids into his town. His story has been detailed in the new Netflix docu-series The Pharmacist. 

Who is Dan Schneider? Read on for all the details — and some spoilers!

1. Who is Dan Schneider?

Dan Schneider didn’t set out to be an activist or an investigator. As we learn in the docu-series, he was simply a husband and father with a job in a local pharmacy. Everything changed in 1999 when his son went out for the evening and never came home. Danny Junior, who was a student at a community college at the time, had told his family he was going out for the night and they went to bed assuming he would be home later. Instead, police came to their door at 2 am to deliver the news that Danny had been shot. The family was stunned to discover that he had been in the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans trying to buy drugs when he died.

2. The police weren’t as vigilant as Schneider hoped.

Because drug crimes were so prevalent in New Orleans at the time, the police didn’t give the case the scrutiny that the family wanted. In his grief, Schneider took up the cause of finding his son’s killer himself. After months of canvassing the area and offering a significant reward, a man named Jeffrey Hall came forward with information about the case. He pointed toward a known drug dealer and said he witnessed the shooting.

Only he was lying. The drug dealer he accused had a credible alibi: he had been in jail that night sand the case remained unsolved. Schneider resumed his investigation and finally found another witness, Shane Madding, who was eventually ready to tell her story. It turned out that Hall had been the shooter all along and had lied to Schneider. He was ultimately charged and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Schneider is the subject of a Netlix docu-series called The Pharmacist. 

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3. Schneider tried to return to regular life after the trial.

Once the case was closed and justice was served, Schneider returned to his job as a pharmacist at Bradley’s Pharmacy. Around 2001, he began to notice a pattern of prescriptions for OxyContin coming across his desk. Seemingly healthy people were getting high doses of the powerful opioid pain killer. Moreover, the prescriptions were all written by the same doctor: Jacqueline Cleggett. The drug was still relatively new to the market and was considered a major breakthrough in chronic pain management but Schneider suspected he was seeing a widesprad abuse of the medication, not legitimate use. He began talking to his patients about why they were using it and how they acquired their prescriptions. One patient confessed that he started on the drug after an accident but was now hooked. He also clued Schneider into where he was getting his supply. It was a so-called pill mill run by said doctor Cleggett.

4. Schneider dedicated himself to taking down Jacqueline Cleggett.

Before she was a major supplier of opioids to addicts, Cleggett was an actual physician. In the docu-series, we learn that Cleggett had wanted to be a doctor since she was 8 years old. She got her medical training from Morehouse School of Medicine and went on to be a family practitioner.  After practicing family medicine, she went to work for Gulf South Medical Consultants soft tissue exams for personal injury clients with her own private practice on the side. Eventually, she quit that job, got a certificate from the American Academy of Pain Medicine as a pain specialist, and opened a new office where she took cash in exchange for writing prescriptions for OxyContin. 

5. Thanks to Schneider, Cleggett's office was shut down. 

Using a lot of same tactics he had used to track down his own son's killer, Schnieder started looking into who Jacqueline Cleggett was and what she was doing. He staked out her office and realized she was operating late at night and patients would wait for hours to be seen — one former patient said she offered an option to pay more cash to be seen more quickly. There were cars with out of state license plates parked outside as if she was attracting clientele from neighboring areas. Between his observations and the records his pharmacy kept about her prescribing habits, Schneider was able to share his suspicions with authorities. It took several years, the involvement of local police and prosecutors, the FBI, the DEA, and the state medical board but eventually Cleggett was arrested and had her medical license revoked. She is still banned from practicing medicine today.

6. Cleggett was out of business but the opioid epidemic was still raging.

Even after shutting down Cleggett’s office, the problem with opioid abuse was unabated in Louisiana, according to the series. Schneider found that people were still hooked on the potential deadly opioids and others were happy to prescribe them. Deaths due to overdose were climbing. Schneider became an advocate for limiting access to opioid drugs. He helped introduce a prescription monitoring program in Lousiana that helps law enforcement track doctors who were prescribing illegally. Now, he is assisting the Louisiana attorney who is part of the legal case against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin. 

Schneider continues to live in St. Bernard parish and he says he hopes his dream of helping people avoid addiction is coming true.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.

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