Phil Frost, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of OPKO Health Inc., a multinational biopharmaceutical and diagnostic company headquartered in Miami, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Florida during the fall 2015 commencement ceremony.
A highly regarded physician, scientist and business executive, Frost has made significant contributions to human health and the pharmaceutical industry through his efforts to bring beneficial drug products to the market and increase available health care options. A generous supporter of the arts, music, technology and science, he and his wife, Patricia, have contributed greatly to Florida’s economic, educational and cultural strengths through their philanthropic efforts.
“Dr. Frost’s distinguished career and legacy of service to our state and the nation are remarkable, and we were thrilled to grant him an honorary degree from the University of Florida,” said UF President Kent Fuchs.
Frost began his career as a dermatologist and served as the chair of the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami until 1990. He acquired Key Pharmaceutics, a small public company based in Miami in 1970. With initial help from Leslie Hendeles, a researcher at UF, he developed a best-selling asthma drug and grew Key Pharmaceutics into one of the most successful drug companies in the world.
“Leslie Hendeles [professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research at the UF College of Pharmacy] was instrumental in helping get Key Pharmaceutics started,” Frost said. “We developed a very important drug for asthma that became the number one asthma drug in the country, partly because of the work Leslie did at the very outset.”
Key Pharmaceutics and its lucrative product line merged with Schering-Plough in 1986. Frost founded IVAX Pharmaceuticals a year later, and turned his attention to advancing the generic drug industry on a global scale. His company focused on providing medicines at a reduced cost to the public in the shortest feasible time. As his business interests expanded, Frost collaborated with the UF College of Pharmacy’s center for drug discovery and the department of pharmaceutics in the development of numerous pharmaceuticals in the U.S. and Europe. The ties he has maintained to UF over the years adds special significance to his latest honor.
“The honorary degree makes me feel more a part of the University of Florida, with which I have had a long connection through several of the professors here,” Frost said. “I am proud to have a closer connection to this great university.”
Other than the earned doctorate, an honorary degree is the greatest recognition UF can give an individual. The awarding of an honorary degree is recognition of eminent achievement in scholarship or high distinction in public service which exemplifies the purposes and ideals of UF. Frost’s nomination for the honorary degree emanated from the College of Pharmacy.