5 famous Pharmacists to Inspire You


Although we might not really think about it, pharmacists and their work have had a dramatic impact upon the world in which we live. 

Of course, if you’re thinking of studying on a pharmacy degree programme, pursuing a career in pharmacy isn’t your only way of making a difference. Below are a list of 5 famous people, all whom have experience within the medicine and pharmacy industry and have made a dramatic impact on the world today…

1) Alexander Flemming

Contribution:  The discovery of penicillin

Prior to his discovery of penicillin, Alexander  Flemming already had a reputation for excellence in medical and chemical research. He actively researched potential drugs with antiseptic properties after watching many soldiers die of sepsis due to infected wounds during World War 1.

However, his discovery of penicillin was completely accidental. When discussing his find, Flemming stated, “When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionise all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer, but I suppose that was exactly what I did.”

Penicillin is currently used to treat a wide number of ailments and is one of the most popular drugs prescribed on the NHS.

2) Jesse Boot

Contribution: The Founder of Boots Pharmacy

Although Boots Pharmacy was initially started by Jesse’s father John Boot, it was Jesse that turned the company into the global phenomenon that it is today.

The initial Boot’s philosophy in 1877 was to provide “health for a shilling”. making it affordable for those on a lower income. The Nottingham store (the first Boots Pharmacy) was incredibly popular among local residents. Goods were bought in bulk, at a much cheaper price than the brand’s competitors and so could be sold at a considerably lower price.

To date Boots Pharmacy is still a thriving business and is still synonymous with quality products at competitive prices.

3) John Pemberton

ContributionCreated Coca-Cola

One of the most popular drinks to date, Coca-Cola was invented by trained pharmacist John Pemberton in order to counteract his own addiction to morphine. Initially the drink contained alcohol, kola nut and damiana and was marketed as a ‘Pemberton’s French Wine Cola’.

However, by 1886 there were increasing concerns about the alcohol content (but oddly, not the cocaine) within popular drinks such as Coca-Cola. Pemberton then decided to experiment with other ingredients such as base syrup and carbonated water.

4) Hubert Humphrey

ContributionUSA Vice President (1965 – 1968) 

Of course, with a degree in Pharmacy the sky is your limit and one man who proved this was American Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Although he never quite made it to president, Humphrey not only held a licence to practice pharmacy, but was also a political force to be reckoned with.

Serving under Lyndon B Johnson Hubert Humphrey was known for his scepticism over the Vietnam conflict in the late 1960s and his desire for social reform. In 1968 he ran for Presidency and lost – by less than 1% of the popular vote– to Robert Nixon.

5) Friedrich Serturner

ContributionDiscovered Morphine

As a pharmacist’s assistant, Friedrich Serturner was the first chemist to separate morphium (morphine) from opium. In the 18th century opium was a widely available and addictive drug (and as you may have hears it wasn’t only popular for its medical properties).

Although his discovery was made in 1805, it wasn’t until after 1815 that morphine became widely available for use. It is due to Serturner’s discovery and continuous research into the effects of morphine that we are able to harness its pain relief qualities today.


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