David Finney is a statistician who profoundly influenced the development of systems for early and unambiguous identification of the potential side effects of prescribed drugs. Through his earlier work, David also made significant and lasting contributions in statistics, particularly towards advancing the technique of probit analysis.
In the 1960s, following the discovery of the harm that thalidomide did to unborn babies, much work was done to set up effective drug monitoring systems. In a groundbreaking paper in 1965, David set out the fundamental features of design and logic for such systems. Thereafter, he was instrumental in setting up the United Kingdom’s own system, as well as an international system for the World Health Organization (WHO).
David’s contributions continue to be influential. In 2002, the WHO’s Uppsala Monitoring Centre published a collected volume of David’s papers on drug safety. His classic book on probit analysis, first published in 1947, remains in publication. He was awarded a CBE for his important contributions to statistics.