January 17 marks the 314th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin, one of America's founding fathers, and an individual who left his mark in more ways than most people probably realize.
Although most often recognized for his roles in drafting the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution – and in negotiating the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War – Franklin also made significant contributions in a diverse range of other fields including:
But perhaps his biggest gift to the public, was his work with medicine, especially the legacy he left in the areas of pharmacy and public health. As reported by Pharmacy Times, "Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in creating the United States' first public hospital – and the first hospital pharmacy, although it was then called the hospital apothecary."
That first hospital – Pennsylvania Hospital – was built in Philadelphia as a way to "take care of the sick, poor and insane who were wandering the streets of Philadelphia." Dr, Thomas Bond originally envisioned the hospital and enlisted his friend Benjamin Franklin to raise the necessary funds. Dr. Bond also envisioned including an apothecary in the hospital, an idea which according to a 2006 article published by the Society of Hospital Medicine, was met with resistance from the community members, who feared that since the hospital's mission was catering to the poor, the added cost of the apothecary would be too burdensome.
But thanks to Franklin's diligence, funds were raised to purchase "more than 112 pounds worth of drugs from London," filling the shelves of the country's first apothecary. A few facts about that facility, based on Society of Hospital Medicine research, include:
Franklin and his peers laid the groundwork for what today has become the world's foremost pharmacy industry. And as the U.S. industry continues to lead in developing more efficient – technology-based – pharmacy management systems, prioritizing patient interactions, and overall pharmacy innovation, we are grateful for the perseverance and foresight of people like Benjamin Franklin.