'Father of Viagra,' Simon Campbell, Becomes a Knight

Viagra
A nurse holds up a bag of Viagra. Police in Poland recently busted a laboratory that was producing fake versions of the drug and other erectile dysfunction medications on an industrial scale. Reuters

Dr. Simon Campbell, one of the latest Britons to be knighted, had a curious rise to prominence. He's the "father" of Viagra, the popular drug for erectile dysfunction.

Campbell spent 26 years at Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, where he developed medications for high blood pressure. One of the drugs he was working on had an unusual side effect: It caused erections. That drug later became Viagra. Although he was involved in the initial research, he did not invent the drug, as others took over the project after he submitted a research proposal.

"I'm not on the Viagra patent," Campbell told the BBC. "If you want, I would say I was the father of Viagra because I laid the seed and started the project. And I was there in New York, on my birthday in March 1998, when it was launched."

Campbell is also the chair of the Medicines for Malaria Venture, a Switzerland-based nonprofit, and a fellow of the Royal Society, the U.K.'s national academy of science.

Officially, Campbell was knighted "for services to chemistry" as a "drug discoverer and scientific adviser."

'Father of Viagra,' Simon Campbell, Becomes a Knight | Tech & Science