Netflix’s “The Pharmacist” dives deep into the the dark side of Big Pharma by following the efforts of one persistent small town pharmacist, Dan Schneider. After helping one of his customers, Robbie Terminie, overcome an OxyContin addiction, the two joined forces to fight the opioid crisis in their community.
Robbie Terminie, 42, got hooked on opioids in the same way that many have: being prescribed pain medication following some sort of injury or medical event, in his case a car crash as a teenager.
"I went home and I remember taking the first OxyContin and it made me feel great,” Terminie recalled in the docu-series. “You know, everything’s clicking, you don’t have the back pain anymore and it just, all around, makes you just, just happy. It’s just a euphoric rush.”
He continued using the powerful opioid until one fateful day when Schneider confronted him with his relentless good nature and drive to help. Terminie had brought his OxyContin prescription into Bradley's Pharmacy in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, where Schneider worked. As the docu-series shows, Schneider had been growing wary of the excessive opioid prescriptions he was asked to fill. After doggedly pursuing his own investigation into his son’s drug-related murder in 1999, Schneider had begun looking into suspicious local OxyContin prescriptions. He took it on as his personal mission to try to talk all his customers out of using opioids, warning them of their dangerous addictive qualities.
Terminie was no exception.
“He starts asking some questions about why I'm getting this medicine," he recalled of a 1999 encounter with him. "I told him I was experiencing back pain but I was pretty sure I was addicted to the medicine at that point."
Schneider said he was shocked that Terminie was being prescribed such a strong medication for his needs. He asked Terminie which doctor prescribed him OxyContin and Terminie told him Dr. Jacqueline Cleggett, who ran what was billed as an internal medicine pain clinic nearby. Turned out, it was actually a pill mill – a term for clinics and doctors who dole out controlled prescription drugs in an inappropriate or excessive manner, often for cash.
Terminie, who worked for a company that repaired printers at the time, said Cleggett tried to pay him for a repair job of about $400 with OxyContin.
When Schneider and Terminie realized that the so-called clinic was corrupt, they “made a pact to try to curtail or stop her operation,” Terminie said.
Terminie relayed his experience, along with the information that Schneider dug up on Cleggett, to the Drug Enforcement Administration. It was a tough experience, as Schneider claimed the agents “picked on” Terminie.
“They couldn't figure out why we came up there,” Terminie recalled in the series. “'Nobody just comes there and tries to do the right thing.' That was their perspective.”
Their good deed paid off, however, as Cleggett was ultimately prosecuted. She pleaded guilty to one count of illegally dispensing controlled substances in 2009, NOLA.com reported.
Terminie also became one of Schneider’s biggest supporters, and accompanied him when he went to schools to discuss the dangers of opioids with children.
"Robbie helped me out quite a bit," Schneider told Oxygen.com in an interview. "He became the guy I could bounce things off of. I was kind of high-strung and a lot of people couldn't relate to me. But, somehow Robbie did."
The assistance was mutual. Terminie said Schneider became a big support for him through his opioid addiction.
"He has helped me tremendously," Terminie told Oxygen.com. "He's been there for the last 21 or 22 years now. He's been there the whole way, through pitfalls and the whole nine yards. He's still there with me. It's a battle every day."
What has Terminie been up to since?
Terminie is continuing to drive a cab, as the docu-series shows, and he’s still a concerned citizen in St. Bernard Parish.
When a local pharmacy got raided in 2017 as part of a federal investigation into possible prescription drug mishandling, Terminie was quoted in related NOLA.com report. In a very on-brand move, he gave information about the pharmacy’s staff size in that article.
Terminie told Oxygen.com he's always been interested in politics. He studied political science at Tulane University and has done political consulting work, including running Wayne Landry's 2016 campaign for St. Bernard Parish president, though it wasn't successful.
"I've managed many campaigns and helped many people throughout the years," Terminie told Oxygen.com. "Some won, some lost."
Terminie himself launched a run for councilman in St. Bernard as a Democrat last year, according to NOLA.com. He was described in a St. Bernard Voice piece announcing his campaign as someone who had worked on "numerous campaigns to change St. Bernard parish for the better.”
“I have honestly had enough of what’s going in District D. I can no longer sit by and let someone else do the campaigning to change the direction of our parish,” he said in that report. “The future is bleak for people who sit back and just want an honest job out of their elected officials.”
However, he got sick and dropped out of the race before campaigning, he told Oxygen.com.
Schneider told Oxygen.com that Terminie has a desire to undo wrongs in their community.
"There's a lot of evil things and he just gets focused on them sometimes and he gets the determination to do something about it," he said. "That's what he did with me with Dr. Cleggett and that's what I think he does with politics."
Terminie also previously worked as a volunteer coordinator for St. Bernard Parish Hospital.
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