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Dan Schneider  

Opioid Crisis Advocate & Inspiration of Netflix’s “The Pharmacist”

Dan Schneider is a long-time advocate whose journey to avenge the death of his son – shedding light on the opioid epidemic in New Orleans in the process – is detailed in the Netflix docuseries, “The Pharmacist.” Schneider was born in 1950 and lived in Chalmette, Louisiana, all his life. One year after Katrina, Schneider moved to Mandeville, in the Eighth Ward, where he continues to reside today. Schneider’s advocacy has mostly been in St. Bernard, within the nearby Seventh Ward, until the docuseries gave him an international voice. After over a decade of advocating, Schneider likes to think his hard-found wisdom can benefit others.

By all accounts, Schneider’s upbringing can be considered a typical American story. Growing up in so-called God’s country, he was raised with two older brothers and one younger sister. Schneider’s father was a good provider and he remembers his mother fondly as a great cook and disciplinarian. She taught Schneider and his siblings right from wrong, how to treat others respectfully, and encouraged her children to pursue their education. Schneider attended public schools and graduated from Chalmette High in 1969, where he also was an all-district tackle on the 1968 all-time greatest football team. Later, he went to UNO pre-pharmacy for two years and moved on to Xavier Pharmacy School where he graduated in 1975. Schneider worked as a pharmacist at K&B and Eckerd Drugs prior to starting at Bradley’s pharmacy, which has garnered its own fame from the Netflix docuseries based on Schneider’s life.

Schneider married his high school sweetheart in 1971 while he was still attending Xavier Pharmacy School. His wife worked full time and provided for the couple while Schneider completed his schooling and worked part time. Their son, Danny, was born in September 1976, and his wife retired to become full-time mother. Little Danny was a beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy and brought great joy to the couple. Their daughter came along in 1980 and completed what became known by them as the “Griswold family,” complete with a station wagon, family trips and a 17 ft. Christmas tree every year. They were blessed.

Then, on April 14, 1999, their life changed forever when their son was shot and killed in a drug deal gone wrong. Up until that point, he had no serious infractions, no fights, no detentions, and never stole from his family or others. His only infraction that his family were sure of was that he occasionally smoked marijuana. They were shocked, ashamed and blamed themselves for some time. After briefly doubting and being angry at God, Schneider grew closer to Him and in his faith than ever before.

Frustrated by the slow progress of the investigation, Schneider felt compelled to track down and find his son’s killer. In a plea to God for help and protection for himself and the witness to his son’s murder, Schneider promised himself that if he was able to get his son’s killer off the street with no one harmed, he would make it his mission to try to inform parents, educate the public and do all he could to reduce the drug addiction problem being faced in this country.

Schneider’s inspiring story up to now is documented in “The Pharmacist,” but it is not a story that is finished. He continues to work at building a nationwide movement to combat the opioid crisis that has killed 500,000 since his son died. Since “The Pharmacist” aired, he has been contacted by thousands of viewers who were thankful for Schneider speaking out and wanted to help. Many came forward with their own tragic stories of losing loved ones to the opioid epidemic. He has been requested to speak in Italy, Ireland, Australia, the Philippines and nationwide in the USA. He has spoken at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the American Pharmacy Association, the Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center, among others, as well as universities, schools and churches. He has also spoken to Obama’s former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli.

In just four weeks, Schneider’s life has changed. Doors are open and he is being listened to. For Schneider, it is a dream come true. He continues to hope that we can reduce the opioid addiction problem significantly in the next few years and put us all on the right track.

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