Documentary Reviews Television Reviews

War on Drugs By One Man: THE PHARMACIST

This Netflix series starts with a father losing his son due to drugs and violence. Dan, the father and a pharmacist, investigates the situation himself and within a year and a half, the culprit was found and convicted. However, Dan doesn’t realize that this was just the beginning. As the series progresses, he is faced with the opioid epidemic and medical malpractice. He investigates a particular doctor in his neighborhood, which leads to federal charges against her. Though Dan, and some other individuals, still fight hard against drugs abuse, this documentary reveals that this is an ongoing battle that has no end in sight.

The Pharmacist

This documentary has four episodes and just like Don’t F$%& with Cats, the story follows one man’s (or one group’s) journey into the war on drugs, while including other individuals that he crosses paths with or also champions the fight. The first episode, “Justice for Danny,” talks in detail about the death of Dan’s son and the start of his investigation. Viewers get to see what motivates Dan to continue his fight through the later episodes.

The second episode, “A Mission from God,” discusses the trail of the murder of Dan’s son and when all is finished, Dan returns to his life, trying to mend his family together. However, the semi-peace is short lived when he notices incorrect prescribed drug usage. The third episode, “Dope Dealers with White Lab Coats,” includes other witnesses to the Oxycontin epidemic including those who were charged with selling it to the doctors. Dan delves deep into investigation again and locates a female doctor prescribing Oxycontin during late hours to unsavory individuals. The last episode, “Tunnel of Hope,” closes the chapter for Dan and this doctor when he finds information that leads to her indictment under federal law. While she is being prosecuted, Dan learns he cannot find true peace since there will always be a newer and stronger drug for people to get addicted to.

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma LP sit on a shelf at a local pharmacy in Provo

The Longer Impact Oxycontin is still an addictive problem in the United States. The battle against prescription drug abuse continues. Studies show that the majority of abusers of these types of drugs are from the upper classes and are teenagers. Since they come from richer families, they have the access to insurance and/or money to pay for these prescription drugs. Other shows such as Law & Order also show upper class teenagers having “pill parties”, meaning all the kids put all the prescribed drugs they have at home in one big bowl and just take a few with alcohol to get high.

The Pharmacist doesn’t bring to light this drug problem as it has been known for a while, but with this new documentary, hopefully more people will be vigilant with their prescription drugs in regards to children and their own consumption. Hopefully, viewers will be more observant of their neighborhood just like Dan and make sure there is no medical malpractice: prescribing medicine that is way too high in dosage or when there is no need for such medication at all.

Dan was a breath of fresh air to watch. He easily could have filled prescriptions that he knew were lethal, but he stood his ground and refused. As a society, we need more individuals like him, making sure everyone is covered. We should be able to trust doctors, but as this documentary shows, they are also human and are susceptible to greed and just plain old being misinformed. Even the company in charge of producing Oxycontin was selling it as a non-addictive drug; however, we now know it is. The best course for everyone, is to research. Ask a doctor or two. Ask some friends. Research on the internet. This can be for anything – drugs, new computers, new cars, flights, etc. However, if you pick a new computer, you have less of a chance dying than with drugs. Even Tylenol can be dangerous for your liver if consumed too much on an empty stomach.


Personal note, I actually went to an upper class high school growing up, due to how the district lines were drawn, though those students still made it clear that I came from the other side of town. There were some lower level drugs such as marijuana and alcohol, but the biggest threat to my fellow classmates were opioids. When I got my one wisdom tooth out, yes I was lucky with one, I was prescribed Oxycontin for the pain. My mother was so afraid of the addictive qualities of the drug that she wanted to give me half a pill every few days. Luckily, I barely had any pain so after the first half pill I just switched to good old ice and Advil. I don’t know whatever happened to the rest of the pills. I imagine it was just a handful in the bottle. I do suppose my mother threw out the rest or flushed it down the toilet in fear of me becoming addicted. I knew at the time that it was addicted, but I didn’t realize how many of my peers were addicted to it until a few years later when news came of people dying or having to be hospitalized.

Perhaps I was a naive kid in high school. Perhaps I wasn’t “cool” enough to be invited to these parties. But, at the end of the day, I am thankful I wasn’t. For my peers, peer pressure is a strong hold. Not many high school students have the fortitude to go against their classmates when it comes to alcohol, sex, or drugs. I might have the strength now, but almost 10 years since I graduated, I don’t know if I could say the same about my younger self.

This series was engaging to watch and kept me wondering what lay ahead in the next episode. I highly recommend this documentary. One can binge it like I did or simply watch an episode a night.

This article was written by a guest contributor
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Marinella Yule
Marinella hails from her travel blog My Open Passport. She is a big fan of film, which was her second degree after Marketing in university. She is a lover of all genres, but tends to get drawn to documentaries, drama, action, and foreign films/series, as she also speaks Spanish and French. Follow her on Instagram | YouTube | Pinterest

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