Sir Simon Campbell Science, Art and Drug Discovery, a personal perspective

The average cost of bringing a new drug to the market is $1.3 billion1, with fewer than 1 in 10 medicines that are tested in human clinical trials being successful1. In England in 2014, over 1 billion prescription items were dispensed, a 55% increase in the 10 years since 20042. Drug Discovery is big business.

On Tuesday 27 September 2016 SCI’s Public Evening Lecture enters the world of drug discovery, going behind the scenes with one the UK’s leading synthetic organic chemists. The lecture will be delivered by Sir Simon Campbell, former Senior Vice President for Worldwide Discovery and Medicinals at Pfizer. The presentation will give his personal perspective on the science, art and discovery of ViagraTM and NorvascTM, for both of which he played a key role in the research teams that developed these drugs so widely used today. 

Science, Art and Drug Discovery
Drug discovery is big business. The HSCIC report Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community, England 2004 – 2014, found that the total net ingredient cost of prescriptions dispensed in 2014 reached £8.9 billion. It follows that the discovery and development of new drugs to the market is a carefully guarded process, with potential healthcare benefits and profits reaching into billions of dollars each year.

Indeed, in this lecture Sir Simon Campbell will outline the many challenges of drug discovery, design and development. He will illustrate the importance of multidisciplinary teams, challenges that arise and factors that influence key decisions through his experience with NorvascTM (amlopidpine) and ViagraTM (sildenafil).  Amlodipine is a calcium-channel blocker used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and chest pain3. There were over 24 million items of this drug dispensed in England in 20142.  At the beginning of the research programme that lead to its discovery, there were over 90 published patents around the parent structure that posed a significant challenge for drug design. Sildenafil, on the other hand, the drug that become the first oral treatment for male erectile dysfunction, was born out of a research programme for cardiovascular disease. There were over 1.7 million prescriptions dispensed for this drug in England in 20142.

This lecture will give fascinating insight into a world where key decisions, chance opportunities and creative design can lead to healthcare products that treat millions of people around the world.


About the Speaker
Sir Simon Campbell is a synthetic organic chemist who received his PhD from the University of Birmingham in 1965 followed by postdoctoral appointments in Chile and Stanford. From 1969 to 1972, he was Visiting Professor at the Universidade do Sao Paulo in Brazil, and then returned to the UK to join Pfizer Central Research in Sandwich. Sir Simon retired from Pfizer in 1998 as Senior Vice President for Worldwide Discovery and Medicinals R&D Europe. He has co-authored over 120 publications and patents, and was a key member of the research teams that discovered CarduraTM, NorvascTM, and Viagra.TM

Dr Campbell’s scientific contributions have been recognised by the RSC Award for Medicinal Chemistry (1989), the Herschberg Award from the American Chemical Society (1997), the Industrial Research Institute (US) Achievement Award (1997), the CIA Individual Achievement Award (2006), Galen Medal (2007) and the Sir James Black Award for Drug Discovery (2012).  He was elected FRS (1999), FMedSci (2002) and was appointed CBE in 2006 for “Services to Science” followed by a knighthood in 2015 for “Services to Chemistry”. Sir Simon was named at number 31 in the Times Eureka list of 100 top UK scientists for 2010, and was included as a business scientist in the Science Council list of the UK’s 100 leading practising scientists in 2014.

1 Fourteenth Annual Structure-Based Drug Design, May 21 – 22 2014:

2 Health and Social Care Information Centre, Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community, England 2004 – 2014, 7 July 2015

3 The Independent, Pfizer, Allergan deal: Viagra maker's ten most profitable drugs, 23 November 2015:

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