E. R. Squibb
1819 – 1900
Who was E. R. Squibb?
Edward Robinson Squibb was a leading American inventor and manufacturer of pharmaceutics who founded E. R. Squibb and Sons, which eventually became part of the modern pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Squibb was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on July 4, 1819. At age 26 he graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He immediately became a ship's surgeon in the U.S. Navy, serving during the ongoing Mexican-American War. After the war he ran the medical station at the Brooklyn Naval Yards.
As a Navy physician, Squibb became disenchanted with the poor quality of medicines used on American military vessels and, as a result, in 1854 he invented an improved method of distilling ether, an anesthetic. He gave away his distillation method, rather than patent it for profit.
In 1858 he left the military and started his own pharmaceutics manufacturing business in Brooklyn. His laboratory burned down three times, and in one of these instances an ether explosion left Squibb badly burned.