American Pharmacists Month: Harvey A.K. Whitney (1894-1957)

Harvey A.K. Whitney

Special Note: During the Month of October, American Pharmacists Month, we will be highlighting historical and present pharmacy figures who have contributed significantly during the profession.

Contributed by: Tameshaá Ventiere, P3, Class of 2017

Pharmacy has been a trusted profession for years and in order to appreciate this prestigious profession we always have to look at the past. Some may know of the ASHP Harvey A.K Whitney Award, which is given to an individual who has made major contributions to the profession of pharmacy. However, one may not know of the man the award represents Harvey A.K. Whitney himself. Whitney’s contributions to the profession of pharmacy started a few years after he received his Ph.C. degree from the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy in 1923. In 1925 he began working at a hospital pharmacy and two years after staring this job he was promoted to chief pharmacist. While in this position, Whitney started an internship in the hospital pharmacy, which very much resembles our residency program today. By the early 1930s Whitney extended the branch of pharmacy as more than just a job that fills prescriptions to roles that included working with therapeutics committees, publishing pharmacy bulletins, establishing drug information centers, pre-packing medication, and specialty manufacturing, all of which were stepping stones as to how we practice pharmacy today.

In 1935 Whitney and a few of his colleagues started to promote their vision for standardization in hospital pharmacy. By 1936 their efforts had developed them a subsection on hospital pharmacy within APhAs section on Practical Pharmacy and Dispensing. The subsection continued to grow and gain popularity up to the point where Whitney was able to lay the groundwork for a new organization. With Whitney as the first chair, in 1942 the organization that we know today was developed, the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists. (ASHP).

Whitney has also made many contributions to hospital pharmacy literature including the works Official Bulletin of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists published in 1943. Other works include one he started in the 1930s, but later on in 1959 it was titled as the American Hospital Formulary Service. These works are still being used today in the profession of pharmacy.

The Harvey A.K. Whitney award was first established in 1950 by the Michigan Society of Hospital Pharmacists in order to honor Whitney as the first chair of ASHP. In 1963 ASHP took responsibility of giving the award out to prospective individuals who have greatly contributed to pharmacy. The award as we know today is given annually in the spring and the recipient is required to present a lecture at the award banquet. As student pharmacists an achievement so great is something we all aspire to, our advocating for the profession starts long before we are practicing pharmacists. In order to make great contributions to the profession of pharmacy and one day hope to receive the Harvey A.K. Whitney Lecture Award it is always a great idea to know the man behind the award.


  1. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2015, from
  1. Worthen, D. (2002). Harvey A.K. Whitney (1894 1957). Journal of the American Pharmacists Association J Am Pharm Assoc., 42(3), 525-525. Retrieved September 21, 2015, from
  1. Harvey A.K. Whitney Award Lectures. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2015, from

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