Celebrating Black History: Dr. Charles Champion

Special Note: During the Month of February, Black History Month, will be highlighting African Americans who have contributed significantly during the profession.

Contributed by: Jenny Long, class of 2017

Charles Champion is an 85-year-old pharmacist at Champion’s Pharmacy and Herb Store in Memphis, TN. He was born in Memphis in 1930, and raised by his grandparents in nearby Greenfield, TN. Once he became an adult, he pursued a pharmacy degree at Xavier University in New Orleans in 1955.

The field of pharmacy has been greatly impacted by the work of Dr. Champion. Throughout his career as a pharmacist, he has broken many barriers such as becoming the first African-American pharmacist hired by a hospital in Memphis and the first African-American pharmacist to be hired by a chain drug store in the same city. He is known as a legend not only in the city of Memphis, but also in the pharmacy world. He has won several prestigious awards, including the Bowl of Hygeia Award for outstanding community service by a pharmacist, and the 1987 Pharmacist of the Year award. In addition, the Tennessee Pharmacists Association has awarded him a lifetime achievement award and the American Druggist magazine has named him one of the country’s 50 most influential pharmacists.

charles championDr. Champion, commonly known as the “herbal pharmacist,” is an avid believer in herbal treatments, and provides herbal products to many of his patients to treat conditions from high blood pressure to gout. He is particularly known for his “sinus cocktail” and “Minister’s Sip,” which many local pastors use to relieve hoarseness. Although he supports the use of herbal treatments, he will only do so if he feels it is safe for the patient. For instance, if a physician prescribes a medication for a certain disease state, Dr. Champion will not give a patient an herbal remedy to replace the medication.

He has extensively studied pharmacognosy and pharmaceuticals since graduating from pharmacy school. In order to stay current, he continues to regularly read journals and books on herbal medicine, compounding, and pharmacy. This enables him to provide the best care possible to his patients.

As a future pharmacist, I feel that Dr. Champion’s most admirable quality is the passion and commitment he shows to both his patients and to the field of pharmacy. Despite the fact he is aging and fighting conditions such as diabetes and fading eyesight, he still puts his patients first when he goes to work each morning. His dedication to his patients embodies what every pharmacist should strive to achieve. This dedication is what keeps patients coming back to his pharmacy year after year, many specifically requesting to be treated by him. Dr. Charles Champion is known as “the Pill-er of the Community,” but he is also a “pill-er” in the world of pharmacy to which pharmacists across the country hold in the highest regard.

References

  1. Charlier T. At 85, Charles Champion still operating iconic pharmacy and herb store. The Commercial Appeal. Memphis; 2015 Dec 27;
  2. Dr. Champion’s Bio [Internet]. [cited 2015 Jan 24]. Available from: http://www.theherbalman.com/Dr-Charles-Champion.html

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