8 Famous Figures with Pharmacy Pasts

July 15, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Did you know that these past and present figures have a history in pharmacy?

Did you know that these past and present figures have a history in pharmacy?

While most know her as a best-selling crime novelist, a little-known fact about Christie is that she once worked as a pharmacist in a hospital.

During her time at the hospital, Christie became intrigued by poisons and used her expertise in medicine as fodder for her stories. A case of thallium poisoning in one of her novels was so thorough that it led to the correct diagnosis of thallium poisoning in 2 patients who had read her work, according to AgathaChristie.com.

2. Benjamin Franklin

In addition to his contributions to science and early American politics, the founding father also helped establish the first public hospital and first hospital pharmacy.

The pharmacy inside Philadelphia Hospital was known as the hospital apothecary at the time. Support for the hospital was initially weak, but Benjamin Franklin helped get the project off its feet by raising more than 200 pounds through private donations, which the Pennsylvania Assembly then matched.

A bad injury in the Civil War inspired this pharmacist to create a carbonated drink that could give him some pain relief. The first formulation of Coca-Cola, which was originally called French Wine Coca, was made with coca leaves (cocaine) and kola nuts.

Pemberton eventually sold his company because he needed money to support his family and his morphine addiction.

Before landing in the White House as Vice President, Humphrey dropped out of undergraduate school to help his father run a drug store. He earned his pharmacy license in the early 1930s and filled prescriptions with his father for 4 years.

Later, Humphrey earned his BA and MA and eventually landed in the Senate. His first bill as Senator was for a health insurance program for the elderly, which would later reemerge as Medicare.

5. Benjamin Green

Green served as an airman in World War II and used red veterinary petrolatum on his skin to serve as a physical barrier from the sun, which inspired Coppertone.

According to Coppertone’s website, the Florida pharmacist wanted to find a way to protect himself and his fellow soldiers from sunburn. When Green came back from the war, he added cocoa butter and coconut oil to the formula to make a more pleasing product that would later become Coppertone suntan lotion.

Pepper worked as a surgeon in the Civil War and then started up his own pharmacy in a small town in Virginia. He experimented with mountain herbs, roots, and seltzer to create the drink that would later become known as Dr. Pepper.

The pharmacist never received a great deal of money for the product, after his assistant took over the mass production of Dr. Pepper, according to The New York Times. The mayor of the small Virginia town is now hoping to rebuild Dr. Pepper’s old pharmacy as a tourist attraction.

The former lead singer of Black Sabbath could have taken a much different career path.

Dio, who took over for Ozzy Ozbourne as the vocalist of the band in 1979, had majored in pharmacy at the University of Buffalo. He revealed this fact during a concert in 2007 at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center near Buffalo, New York.

The heavy metal singer attended the pharmacy school from 1960 to 1961, but did not graduate. He did start one of his early bands in his freshman year, however.

8. Chris Hemsworth

This Australian actor known for his role as Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron did not always have a glamorous lifestyle.

To pay his bills before he got famous, Hemsworth got a job working at a pharmacy. He told The Express Tribune that one of his tasks was to sterilize breast pumps after women returned them to the pharmacy.