The Pharmacist: Inside The Mind of Dr. Jacqueline Cleggett

Chris Longo

Feb 10, 2020

The story of Jacqueline Cleggett in Netflix's gripping doc sequence The Pharmacist is a tragic story of habit.

For almost all of Netflix’s restricted documentary sequence, The Pharmacist, Dr. Jacqueline Cleggett is a reputation shrouded in thriller. There are restricted photographs of Cleggett, the previous doctor who established a shady medical apply exterior of New Orleans, a apply that turned a infamous OxyContin “capsule mill.” A lot of the footage that accompanies her identify is hours of dwelling video filmed exterior her workplace by Dan Schneider, a involved citizen, moralistic pharmacist, and grieving father.

Because the sequence unfolds, Schneider is impressed to take motion after the drug-related capturing dying of his son, Danny Jr., and goals to wash up a group devastated by the opioid disaster by taking down Cleggett. With out seeing a lot of Cleggett via three episodes, the mounting circumstantial proof builds her as much as be a monster ravaging a group for her monetary profit. The sequence then leads us to a stunning reveal in episode 4: Cleggett agreed to a sit-down interview to inform her facet of the story almost 20 years later. She stays in denial about shedding her license, her function within the area’s opioid downside, and the unfathomable charge at which she prescribed OxyContin to her sufferers. Her story can be one in all habit and illustrates deeply rooted issues inside the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

The Pharmacist co-directors and government producers, Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, gave Den of Geek perception into the manufacturing of the restricted sequence in a latest interview (which you’ll learn in full right here) and elaborated on their interplay Cleggett, who was stripped of her medical license in 2002. 

“We did do an extended interview together with her, and the highlights clearly make the movie, however the actuality was that it’s a tragic story,” Furst says. “It’s a tragic story of habit, of grief, that parallels lots of the habit tales that we see within the sequence.” 

After shedding her license, Cleggett was plagued with well being and habit problems–plus quite a few lawsuits from former sufferers. She finally accepted a plea deal for 3 months of probation in 2009 on conspiracy to dispense and distribute managed substances, avoiding jail time. 

To land the interview, Furst reached out to Dr. Cleggett to guarantee her that the artistic workforce behind the movie was dedicated to listening to all sides of the story. Once we spoke with Furst, he mirrored on Cleggett’s participation within the documentary as a option to empathize with an individual who took the improper path, relatively than demonize her. 

learn extra: The Finest Documentaries on Netflix

“Dr. Cleggett herself was addicted,” he says. “She continues to be considerably in denial about that, as we see within the interview. It’s a tragic story. She was the highest of her class. She was one of many solely African American feminine medical doctors in New Orleans who had some of these credentials.

“She might’ve performed something. She might have been anybody. We deeply empathize with that, and in addition empathize with the concept folks can go improper. We didn’t need to fall into this concept of demonizing her via this trope of this evil physician.” 

When Furst met with Cleggett, she insisted on sharing paperwork with the artistic workforce, a few of which she believed would exonerate her. That wasn’t the case when the paperwork had been held as much as the sunshine. 

Says Furst, “Once we cross referenced the details, a number of the details had been in her favor, however the overwhelming majority present somebody who was overprescribing and who was working a capsule mill. And I feel to at the present time she denies that that’s what she was doing. However the case is the case. And we present the US towards Jacqueline Cleggett, and the details are the details. I feel that she has had an extended, lengthy interval of struggling after her clinic was shut down; automotive accidents, diseases, strokes, a number of mind surgical procedures. So she has paid a severe worth, karmically, however she’s nonetheless misplaced in some form of netherworld in terms of taking accountability.” 

Eradicating Cleggett sadly didn’t clear up the issue for the St. Bernard, Louisiana group and larger New Orleans space. In keeping with a / Occasions-Picayune report, extra ache clinics popped up within the area to take Cleggett’s affected person base: “The epidemic worsened. In late 2004, the parish coroner lamented the unabated overdose dying toll, attributing most of them to ‘leisure use of prescription drugs.’ The issues persist at the moment. In the previous few years, St. Bernard has posted the second-highest drug overdose charge in Louisiana, larger than any of its neighboring parishes, in accordance with the Robert Wooden Johnson Basis’s county well being rankings.”

At a number of factors within the sequence, Schneider hyperlinks overdose deaths again to Cleggett’s apply. Cleggett left a scar, one that may by no means be healed, on the group that she took an oath to assist. Within the ultimate episode, Furst needed to look past the confirmed wrongdoing of Cleggett, and the drug issues on the hyperlocal degree, and study how medical doctors nationwide had been influenced by Large Pharma to perpetuate the cycle of opioid abuse.  

“We needed to additionally present how orchestrated the marketing campaign was to deceive medical doctors, by Purdue Pharma,” he says. “That is documented stuff. They deceived medical doctors systematically concerning the influence and concerning the dangers associated to OxyContin. And I feel that Dr. Cleggett fell sufferer to that. After which there was a private facet to that, that she fell sufferer to the identical illness that [Schneider’s son] Danny Jr. fell sufferer to.” 

Learn extra on The Pharmacist: Inside Dan Schneider’s Actual-Life Superhero Story.


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