Robert Henry Garrison, Jr., RPh, MA, president, co-founder, and CEO of Next Pharmaceuticals (Carlsbad, CA), and an influential entrepreneur and figure within the natural products industry, passed away on March 1, 2007, at the age of 64.1 Mr. Garrison founded multiple health-related companies, authored several books on nutrition, and was involved in the development of many popular herbal products.
“The industry has lost a true leader, a man who walked quietly but cast a big shadow on the way we embrace natural products in the United States and all over the world,” said Jim LaValle, RPh, ND, founder of the LaValle Metabolic Institute (e-mail, April 9, 2007). “Bob will be missed, but if any of you knew him, his smile will never leave you!”
Mr. Garrison was born on October 16, 1942, in Chehalis, WA.2 He earned his bachelor of science in pharmacy in 1967 from the University of Washington in Seattle, then obtained his master of arts in adult education in 1980 from San Diego State University. He also attended United States International University in San Diego from 1980 to 1982, as part of a doctoral program (J. Garrison, e-mail, March 18, 2007).
Mr. Garrison founded the company Health Media of America Inc. (San Diego, CA) in 1980 and served as its president and CEO until 1993. This company provided accredited continuing pharmacy education materials, particularly concerning nutrition and the value of herbs and other dietary supplements, to major pharmaceutical companies. Mr. Garrison then co-founded the herbal company Botalia Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Grass Valley, CA), serving as its president from 1993 to 1996. This company, which was sold to Celestial Seasonings in 1995, developed an extensive line of standardized herbal extracts and introduced the first line of standardized herbal extracts into national drug store chains. Finally, Mr. Garrison co-founded the company Next Pharmaceuticals in 1997, which develops new patented, natural ingredients for health products in the dietary supplement, food, and beverage industries. He served as the company’s president and CEO until the time of his death. Mr. Garrison also published, packaged, or co-authored 14 books in the field of nutrition during his lifetime, including The Nutrition Desk Reference (Keats Publishing, 1985) and The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals (Harper Collins, 1992).
“It is difficult for me to speak from my heart with words about my wonderful husband at this time, but I believe his passion for his work was inspired by his sincere desire to help people make natural choices for wellness,” explained Mr. Garrison’s wife Janice Garrison. “A pioneer always ahead of his time, his legacy may be defined by his favorite quote, from the man who discovered vitamin C in 1937, Albert Szent-Gyorgi: ‘Discovery consists in seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought’” (e-mail, March 18, 2007).
Mr. Garrison’s friends and colleagues likewise praised his strength of character and commented on his professional contributions to the natural products industry. “Bob was driven by the passion of helping people to improve their lives,” said Dr. LaValle. “Whether it was pioneering education programs for pharmacists on natural therapies, writing books, or developing innovative products that were science-based, Bob poured his heart into the project, everyday. He was instrumental in developing the standardized herb botanical marketplace by creating Botalia Herbs, and later on as he co-founded Next Pharmaceuticals, which took herbal extraction and scientific application for product development to a new level of expertise in the US market. Bob had insight in what the market needed and what people needed as individuals.
“Over the last 10 years, Bob played an instrumental role in my life,” Dr. LaValle continued. “As I seemingly followed many of the similar footsteps he had trekked before, Bob was always available to humbly give his advice based on his experiences and was always a pillar of support for me. He always had a positive spin on the situation, knew how to get a good laugh out of you, and most of all, knew the right bottle of wine to get the highest antioxidant value!”
“Bob was a pioneer in the herb industry, especially on the health professional side,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council. “Being a pharmacist who studied pharmacognosy under the late, great Prof. Varro E. Tyler when Tyler was still at the University of Washington, Bob had a deep sense of trust in the healing power of medicinal plants. He was also highly devoted to proper quality control, clinical research, and professional education, and his several herb-based businesses reflected this philosophical commitment.” Blumenthal added, “I too was most fortunate to have ‘tested’ the antioxidant activity of some really robust red wines with him over some highly memorable dinners!”
Charles Kosmont, chairman and co-founder of Next Pharmaceuticals, released the following statement in a company press release: “Bob Garrison created a dynamic company and will be sorely missed by all of us at Next Pharmaceuticals. He was one of those rare human beings who combined an entrepreneurial spirit with excellent business sense. He lived a life filled with insight, humor, kindness, and integrity.”1
Mr. Garrison is survived by his wife Janice, four children, and six grandchildren.
- Next Pharmaceuticals mourns the loss of Bob Garrison, CEO, president and natural supplement industry icon [press release]. Carlsbad, CA: Next Pharmaceuticals, Inc; March 4, 2007.
- Robert Garrison, 64. North County Times. March 6, 2007.