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To the Editor:—
The tone of the publicity recently released by officials of the United States Pharmacopeia Revision Committee suggests that these officials may be inadvertently changing the character and function of our pharmacopeia.Pharmacopeias originated in the 16th century for providing physicians, pharmacists, and public officials with reasonable standards by which commonly used drugs could be identified, their purity estimated, and adulteration detected. Drug manufacturers could then offer an implied warranty by labeling their products with the drug name followed by the pharmacopeial reference, eg, "chloroform, USP XI." This would indicate that the product conformed to the specifications given in USP XI. The pharmacopeia, by giving the accepted standards, would make it possible for physicians, pharmacists, or governmental officials to check the product, and thus would assure that the manufacturer was offering a product that truly conformed to the standard.Pharmacopeial standards are important for commonly used drugs. The
Leake CD. United States Pharmacopeia Changes of Character. JAMA. 1965;194(7):833. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090200141039