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Dr Stewart Adams: Chemist who invented ibuprofen after taking it to cure own hangover dies | UK News



A British chemist who helped invent the painkiller ibuprofen after he took it to cure his own hangover has died at the age of 95.

Dr Stewart Adams, who was awarded an OBE in 1987, died at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham on Wednesday.

He has been praised for his “amazing achievement with the invention of ibubrofen” and was also described as “a genuinely nice guy”.

Ibuprofen is now one of the world’s best-selling anti-inflammatory painkillers.

Dr Adams, a father-of-two and grandfather-of-six who lived in Redhill, Nottinghamshire, said he used it ahead of an important speech in the early 1960s.

He told the BBC: “I was first up to speak and I had a bit of a headache after a night out with friends. So I took a 600mg dose, just to be sure, and I found it was very effective.”

Stewart Adams
Dr Adams pictured with his team. Pic: Boots

Dr Adams, who was born in Northamptonshire, left school at 17 and then started a pharmacist apprenticeship with a chemist in Cambridgeshire.

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

A year later he began researching substances which could have a pain-killing effect on rheumatoid arthritis. He carried out much of his work in a house in Nottingham.

Over the next decade, Dr Adams and his team tested various compounds – many of which failed – before they discovered 2-(4-isobutylphenyl) propionic acid.

This would later become known as ibuprofen.

A patent was filed in 1962 and further trials had to be made before it was licensed in 1969 as a prescription drug in the UK.

Stewart Adams
Dr Adams was among those behind one of the world’s best-selling anti-inflammatory painkillers. Pic: Boots

Sophie Clapp, company archivist at Boots, 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.”

Nottingham 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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