Famous Pharmacists in History

Famous Pharmacists in History

If you’re considering a career in the field of pharmacy, you may be interested to know that the job does not always involve counting pills and printing labels for customers. As many people who have chosen this career path would confirm1, this important vocation offers countless opportunities to positively impact the lives of others. In fact, a pharmacist acts as a crucial link between patients and their health care providers. 

In addition to being an intensely gratifying line of work, the pharmacy profession has also produced a wealth of fascinating individuals. These famous pharmacists have accomplished some truly notable deeds. In some cases, their achievements were related to their original vocation of choice – while in other instances, they were not. The following are a few examples of famous pharmacists in history.

Hubert H. Humphrey

Hubert H. Humphrey’s accomplishments have been well-documented – and for good reason. The American Pharmacists Association even extends an award2 in the man’s name. This former pharmacist who went on to enjoy a highly successful career in politics – first, as a U.S Senator for the State of Minnesota, and then, as Vice President of the United States under Lyndon B. Johnson from 1965 to 1969. Humphrey followed his father into the pharmacy profession, and he worked as a pharmacist in the drugstore that his father owned in South Dakota. Some of the most notable accomplishments of his political career included chairing the advisory council for the Peace Corps, chairing the Civil Rights Council, organizing an antipoverty program, and working with Congress to enact Medicare and the Voting Rights Act3 .

Charles Alderton

After attending college in England, Brooklyn-born Charles Alderton obtained his training in medicine at the University of Texas. He then worked as a pharmacist in a drug store in Waco, Texas4. The drug store in which he worked also had a soda fountain, which was the place that Alderton observed customers growing bored with the traditional soda flavors of the time period (the late 1800s). That observation inspired the pharmacist to create a carbonated drink with a flavor that smelled similar to all of the various fruit syrups used in the store to make sodas. The result was a beverage that remains highly popular to this day – which is known as Dr Pepper (the original period after the “Dr.” in the drink’s name was eventually omitted)5.

Agatha Christie

When you consider her history as an apothecary’s assistant, it is no small wonder that Agatha Christie experienced great success as an author whose crime novels sometimes included poison as a means of murder. To say that Christie was successful is actually an understatement; after her work as a volunteer nurse during the First World War and then in the pharmacy field6, she became known as one of the top-selling authors in the world7.  


Benjamin Green

After he served as an airman in the Second World War, pharmacist Benjamin Green began experimenting with various substances in order to create an effective sunscreen. He initially applied a type of veterinary petroleum to his skin to protect himself from harmful UV rays during wartime. Later, he added other substances to develop what would ultimately become the basis for the suntan product manufactured by Coppertone8.

Luke Howard

Londoner Luke Howard was a pharmacist who became famous for his meteorological work in the 1800s. After establishing a pharmacy of his own in Fleet Street, he partnered with scientist William Allen to start a pharmaceutical firm. Howard later became known for creating some of the cloud names9 that are still in use to this day. Howard has since been referred to as the “Father of Meteorology”10.

A career in the pharmacy field may be one of the most personally gratifying career choices you could make. Helping consumers to get the medications they need is an invaluable service. If you follow the lead of some of the most famous pharmacists in history, you may even find yourself using your knowledge to benefit the world in ways that you never imagined.    

Henri Nestle

Most people are familiar with the chocolate brand, Nestle.  What they might not know is it began with Henri Nestle, a pharmacists’ assistant, before becoming the world recognized brand that people love and admire.


1. Pharmacy Times, “Why I Love Being a Pharmacist: Honorable Mentions” <https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/why-i-love-being-a-pharmacist-honorable-mentions> (accessed August 15, 2016)

2. American Pharmacists Association, “Hubert H. Humphrey Award” <https://www.pharmacist.com/hubert-h-humphrey-award> (accessed August 15, 2016)

3. Encyclopædia Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Hubert Humphrey, Vice president of United States” < https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hubert-Humphrey> (accessed August 15, 2016)

4. NNDB, “Charles Alderton”, <https://www.nndb.com/people/635/000207014/> (accessed August 15, 2016)

5. Dr Pepper Museum, “History of Dr Pepper” <https://www.drpeppermuseum.com/About-Us/History-Of-Dr–Pepper.aspx> (accessed August 15, 2016)

6. Science Friday, Kathryn Harkup, “Agatha Christie: From Pharmacist’s Apprentice to Poison Expert, An excerpt from “A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie.” <https://www.sciencefriday.com/articles/agatha-christie-from-pharmacists-apprentice-to-poison-expert/> (accessed August 15, 2016)

7. Bio, “Agatha Christie Biography”, <https://www.biography.com/people/agatha-christie-9247405> (accessed August 15, 2016)

8. The New York Times, “Sunscreen: A History” <https://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/fashion/24skinside.html?_r=0> (accessed August 15, 2016)

9. Royal Meteorological Society, “Luke Howard and Cloud Names” <https://www.rmets.org/weather-and-climate/observing/luke-howard-and-cloud-names> (accessed August 15, 2016)

10. Royal Meteorological Society, “The Invention of Clouds: Luke Howard, The Father of Meteorology”<https://www.rmets.org/events/invention-clouds-luke-howard-father-meteorology> (accessed August 15, 2016)

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