The British scientist who discovered ibuprofen has died aged 95


Following further trials it was licensed in 1969 as a prescription drug. It is one of the world’s best-selling drugs and production is around 15,000 tonnes per year. Adams’ father was a railwayman. The future chemist grew up in a rural farming area in Northamptonshire. He became a pharmacist and  gained an interest in science. He did a B.Pharm degree at University College, Nottingham, which he was awarded in 1945. At the Boots Pure Drug Company in 1953, Adams began work on chemical substances that could have a pain-killing effect and have less side effects. When ibuprofen was discovered after some years, this time at Boots Pharmaceuticals, he took the first dose himself and used the drug to treat his own headaches before it was on the market.

Scientists including Dr Stewart Adams working at Boots

The first clinical trials were at the Rheumatic Diseases Unit at the Northern General Hospital, Edinburgh  in 1966. Adams retired as Head of Pharmacological Sciences at Boots in 1983. For ibuprofen, Boots received the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement in 1985. In 1987 Adams became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. „My hero is Louis Pasteur because he put his outstanding academic research to practical uses. I also owe to him my favourite quote: ‘Luck favours only the prepared mind’,” Dr Adams confessed in an interview.


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