Ron Wing CBE

Pioneering Pharmacist, Ron Wing, studied as an apprentice at Bradford Technical College from
1942 to 1947.

Ron WingRon’s interest in pharmacy was derived from personal experience. His childhood had been blighted by chronic asthma and when he was 13 he almost died from pneumonia, but was saved by the prescription of a new drug, M&B693. When his asthma was successfully treated with an elixir of ephedrine, he became convinced of the importance of medicine. With his health much improved he was able to concentrate at school and became an excellent student.

When he left school in 1942 he hoped to serve in the Navy but was rejected due to his previous health problems. His father was a railway fireman and could not afford to send him to medical school to train as a doctor so he found a position as an apprentice pharmacist and studied at Bradford Technical College. He qualified in 1947 when he was only 20. This was the youngest that anyone had qualified in Britain and he wasn’t eligible for his license until he was 21.

He then managed a pharmacy in Doncaster for 8 years before joining Wellcome in 1956. He began as a sales representative, rising to product manager 2 years later. He moved to Boots in 1967, where as Marketing Manager he conquered numerous difficulties to launch ibuprofen. Three years later he was appointed Managing Director of Reckitt & Coleman Pharmaceuticals, where he was instrumental in bringing out important new treatments for epilepsy.

In 1980 he founded Sanofi UK and also became a Director of the East Riding Health Authority. He served as its Chairman from 1996 to 2002. He held important positions on a number of organisations: he was Chairman of the Central Blood Authorities Laboratory from 1988 to 1993; Chairman of the panel of fellows for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society from 1987 to 2002 and also served on the councils of London University’s School of Pharmacy and Hull University.

Ron was given the freedom of the City of London in 1986, awarded the CBE in 1985 and received the honorary fellowship of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Physicians in 2002. He died in 2005.

Photograph courtesy of the Pharmaceutical Journal