Lives of the fellows

David Margerison Davies

b.23 February 1923 d.29 December 2002
MRCS LRCP(1949) MRCP(1954) FRCP(1969) FRCP Edin(1986)

Much of Dai Davies' professional life was devoted to making drug treatment safer for patients. To this end he devised new types of prescription sheet, developed a ward drug information service for use in hospitals and improved procedures for drug administration. In 1966 he founded the Adverse Drug Reaction Bulletin and edited it for the next 30 years. This brief bimonthly international publication warns doctors, pharmacists and nurses of potential hazards of drug treatment. In 1977 he produced, as editor and contributor, the Textbook of adverse drug reactions (Oxford, Oxford University Press), now in its fifth edition, which became one of the standard works on the subject. In 1982 he founded and jointly edited the Adverse Drug Reactions and Acute Poisoning Reviews.

He was born in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire (now Llanelli, Gwent) and was educated at the County Boys Grammar School. His medical studies at the London Hospital Medical College were interrupted by service in the RAF and army during the Second World War. He returned to medical college at the end of the war and qualified in 1949, but interruption of his studies by the war robbed him of his university degree.

Dai was a man of many talents and from his schooldays onwards had been interested in writing and editorial work. During and after medical training he was a prolific writer of non-medical as well as medical articles and books. Whilst waiting to find a medical registrar job he was obliged to earn his living by writing short stories for the Evening Standard, Evening News and Everybody's Weekly. He later became medical correspondent to the News Chronicle, as well as medical adviser to the Oxford University Press.

Consequently, after house jobs, he decided to take up full-time journalism as junior assistant editor at The Lancet. However, he missed the clinical life and returned to the National Health Service and became a medical registrar at the Bolingbroke Hospital, London, and held, successively, the posts of medical registrar, senior medical registrar, and receiving room physician at the London Hospital. He was appointed consultant physician to Shotley Bridge General Hospital and associated hospitals in County Durham in 1962. Later, while continuing work at Shotley Bridge, he became honorary lecturer in pharmacoclogy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and in that capacity took over the poisons information service based at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, on the death of its founder, Nolan Wynn. Subsequently he became senior lecturer in clinical toxicology at the University and in 1978 was appointed director of the northern regional clinical pharmacology unit, the first such unit to be established within the NHS.

He also served as chairman, or as a member, on a number of NHS committees and on international, national, regional and local committees. He sat on editorial boards concerned with pharmaceutical services, drug safety matters, medical treatment, and the training of doctors specialising in clinical pharmacology. He lectured widely, at home and abroad, on the subject of adverse drug reactions. In 1973 he was awarded a World Health Organisation travelling fellowship to visit drug regulatory agencies and drug monitoring units in the USA and Canada.

Dai was a hard worker on behalf of the RCP and was regional adviser (northern region) from 1974 to 1979, and was clinical tutor at Shotley Bridge General Hospital for 24 years. Despite all these activities his clinical load was substantial and for much of his time as an NHS consultant was only one of two general physicians, each of whom was on call on alternate nights (or every night when one's colleague was sick or on leave - no locums were allowed) and each having charge of 52 acute beds and 100 geriatric beds - a workload that would be unthinkable today!

A few years after the establishment of the Committee on Safety of Medicines, Dai was invited by its chairman, Sir Derrick Dunlop [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.170], to join the subcommittee dealing with adverse drug reactions. He remained on the subcommittee and its successors for 18 years when he resigned from all his current posts to become foundation professor of clinical pharmacology at the Chinese University and Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. Whilst at the Prince of Wales Hospital he set up a new academic unit, organised its teaching programme as well as running its allocation of general medical beds and outpatient clinics. An adverse drug reactions reporting system and acute poisoning information service was established for Hong Kong.

Dai was great fun to work with. His lectures were filled with fascinating anecdotes of adverse drug reactions occurring in years gone by. He had a wonderful collection of clinical stories and listening to these over a pint at the end of the day's work was indeed a rare pleasure. He readily helped those of us who needed to make our papers more readable and interesting.

He returned to England in 1987 and retired to Boston Spa where he and his wife could be near to his eldest daughter and grandchildren. He faced his final illness with typical stoicism and was devotedly nursed by his wife and family.

Dai was very much a family man who took great pleasure in his home life and his children. He leaves behind a wife, Patricia, and four children, one of whom is a doctor.

Michael Cohen

(Volume XI, page 144)

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