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Discovery & Development Small Molecules, Drug Discovery

Remembering Stewart Adams OBE

Back in the early 1960s, Stewart Adams – a pharmacist in the UK – had a bad hangover, but was due to speak at a European conference. The answer? Take the experimental drug that he had been developing with colleagues: 2-(4-isobutylphenyl) propionic acid – better known as ibuprofen. It worked a treat.

In 1969, the drug received its first approval as a prescription medicine (in the UK), but became available as an over-the-counter product in the mid-1980s. Today, ibuprofen is included on the WHO’s list of essential medicines.  

Adams was initially seeking a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis; while looking at other anti-inflammatories, he was struck by some of aspirin’s disadvantages. The search for an alternative began, with Adams and his colleagues at Boots Pure Drug Company testing more than 600 chemical compounds in the process.

Adams was born in 1923 in Nottingham. He studied pharmacy at the University of Nottingham and started working at Boots Pure Drug Company in 1952. He died at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham on January 30, 2019, at the age of 95.


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About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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