Lives of the fellows

Graham John (Sir) Wilkins

b.22 January 1924 d.? July 2003
Kt(1980) BSc Exeter Hon FRCP(1984)

Sir Graham Wilkins, known to all as 'Bob', had a distinguished career with the Beecham Pharmaceutical Company from 1954 until 1989, latterly as president of the Beecham Group Ltd. His greatest contribution to medicine was in the sixties when, as director and then chairman of the pharmaceutical division of the company, he oversaw the discovery, development and manufacture of the semi-synthetic penicillins such as ampicillin and flucloxacillin, which revolutionized the treatment of infections both in the community and in hospital. Derivatives of these compounds, for example amoxycillin (at one time the most commonly used antibiotic in the world), remain in widespread use today. In 1980 he was knighted for his contributions to the pharmaceutical industry.

Amongst his other business appointments he was chairman of Thorn EMI, a director of the Hill Samuel Group and of Eastern Electricity, and president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

From 1980 to 1990 he was a member of the Doctors and Dentists Renumeration Review Body, of which he was chairman from 1986 to 1990. He was a vocal advocate for pharmacists and was chairman of the School of Pharmacy of the University of London from 1987 to 2000.

Bob Wilkins was a friendly man, devoid of pomp and readily approachable. He was elected to the honorary Fellowship of the College in 1984.

Alasdair Geddes

(Volume XI, page 623)

<< Back to List