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World-renowned chemist Dr Stewart Adams dies aged 95


World-renowned doctor who helped develop ibuprofen and found it worked when it cured his own HANGOVER dies aged 95

  • Dr Stewart Adams, who was born in Northamptonshire, left school aged 17 
  • He started a pharmacist apprenticeship at a Boots branch in Cambridgeshire 
  • It was the following year his work began researching pain-killing substances
  • Over the next 10 years, Dr Adams and his team tested various compounds
  • They eventually discovered 2-(4-isobutylphenyl) propionic acid – ibuprofen 

Stephen Matthews Health Editor For Mailonline

A world-renowned chemist who helped develop the painkiller ibuprofen while working at Boots has died at the age of 95.

Dr Stewart Adams, born in Northamptonshire, left school aged 17 and started a pharmacist apprenticeship at a Boots branch in Cambridgeshire.

He went on to study pharmacy at the University of Nottingham and began work at Boots Pure Drug Company in 1952.

It was the following year his work began researching substances which could have a pain-killing effect on rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr Stewart Adams, born in Northamptonshire, left school aged 17 and started a pharmacist apprenticeship at a Boots branch in Cambridgeshire. He has died aged 95

Dr Stewart Adams, born in Northamptonshire, left school aged 17 and started a pharmacist apprenticeship at a Boots branch in Cambridgeshire. He has died aged 95

Dr Stewart Adams, born in Northamptonshire, left school aged 17 and started a pharmacist apprenticeship at a Boots branch in Cambridgeshire. He has died aged 95

Over the next 10 years, Dr Adams and his team tested various compounds – many of which failed.

They eventually discovered 2-(4-isobutylphenyl) propionic acid. This would later become known as ibuprofen.

Dr Adams told the BBC in 2015 that the drug was ‘very effective’ when he took it to combat a headache from a hangover before giving a speech.

Further trials of ibuprofen had to be made before it was then licensed in 1969 as a prescription drug in the UK. 

He was awarded an OBE for his work in the 1980s. This year is the 50th anniversary of the drug becoming licensed.

Dr Adams, a father-of-two and grandfather-of-six who lived in Redhill, near Nottingham, died at the Queen’s Medical Centre on Wednesday.

His son, Chris, a solicitor in Nottingham, said: ‘He was very humble and very objective and measured. 

‘He was an incredibly modest person who was very much dedicated to his work and his family.’

On his father’s work, Mr Adams added: ‘Being involved in that kind of project and remaining completely grounded and being such a good role model for my brother and I and the grandchildren and others in the family, we are incredibly proud of him,.

‘I think quietly he was very pleased that people recognised him later on.’

He went on to study pharmacy at the University of Nottingham and began work at Boots Pure Drug Company in 1952

He went on to study pharmacy at the University of Nottingham and began work at Boots Pure Drug Company in 1952

He went on to study pharmacy at the University of Nottingham and began work at Boots Pure Drug Company in 1952

Further trials of ibuprofen had to be made before it was then licensed in 1969 as a prescription drug in the UK

Further trials of ibuprofen had to be made before it was then licensed in 1969 as a prescription drug in the UK

Further trials of ibuprofen had to be made before it was then licensed in 1969 as a prescription drug in the UK

Further trials of ibuprofen had to be made before it was then licensed in 1969 as a prescription drug in the UK

WHAT IS IBUPROFEN? 

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug painkiller available over the counter without a prescription. Its effects kick in very shortly after it is consumed.

The NHS says common side effects of taking ibuprofen include nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.   

Ibuprofen most commonly comes in the form of tablets but can also be consumed as a liquid, spray, gel or cream. 

Ibuprofen was licensed in 1969 as a prescription drug in the UK. Fourteen years later, it became available over the counter. 

Ibuprofen blocks the production of prostaglandins. These substances are released by the brain in response to illness and can cause inflammation.

Dr Adams’ achievements will be marked on a ‘Heritage Wall’ being erected in Boots’ main office, D90, to mark the company’s 170th anniversary this month.

Sophie Clapp, company archivist at Boots, said this was planned prior to the news of his death.

Paying tribute to him, she described him as a ‘key hero of Boots’, adding: ‘He was a really significant figure in terms of the history of Nottingham and a remarkable figure in the history of Boots.

‘I was personally very sad to hear the news and felt very privileged to have known him. He was a really lovely man.

‘He will never be forgotten, and I said that to his son. His discovery was a phenomenal achievement.’

Dr Adams was also made an Honorary Freeman of Nottingham in recognition of his work. He was awarded the honour with MRI founder Sir Peter Mansfield.

Nottingham City Council leader Jon Collins said: ‘I’m very sorry to hear that Dr Adams has passed away.

‘Not only did he have an amazing achievement with the invention of Ibubrofen, but he was a genuinely nice guy. 

‘We’re incredibly proud of the fact that it was here in Nottingham that he invented Ibuprofen, which continues to bring pain relief to people across the world.

‘We recognised this significant contribution by making him an Honorary Freeman of the City in 2013, and his legacy lives on with ongoing ground-breaking scientific and medical work in Nottingham – some of it at

BioCity which is on the site where Dr Stewart and his team developed Ibuprofen.’



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