Friday, 22 Feb 2019

Stewart Adams obituary

Pharmacologist who developed the painkiller ibuprofen and made a fortune for Boots

In the 1950s, health and safety protocols were less stringent than today, and so it was possible for Stewart Adams, a group leader in the research department at Boots, to be the first human guinea pig for a new painkiller. “I always felt that if you were going to ask volunteers to take a drug, and later patients,” he said, “you really ought to be prepared to take it yourself.”

The drug in question would become known as ibuprofen, the over-the-counter analgesic since taken by hundreds of millions worldwide. The discovery by Adams, who has died aged 95, gave Boots, best known for its chain of retail chemists, a new standing on the international pharmaceutical scene, a Queen’s award for technological achievement, and multimillion-pound earnings that continued even after the patent had expired.

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