Many years before the publication of the first edition of the United States Pharmacopeia it was recognized by the leaders of the medical and pharmaceutical professions that standards for potent well-known drugs were highly desirable, if not absolutely necessary for the proper treatment of human ailments. Tangible evidence of this feeling was manifested by the publication of a number of books by various authors which contained standards or descriptions of drug products of much value. The first edition of the Pharmacopeia appeared in 1820 and was immediately voluntarily accepted as the proper guide by both professions. Successive editions appeared decennially; and Congress in 1848 recognized this authority as the legal standard for drugs imported into the United States in the following language:
If, on examination, any drugs, medicines, medicinal preparations, whether chemical or otherwise, including medicinal essential oils, are found, in the opinion of the examiner, to be so far
WILEY HW, KEBLER LF. THE PHARMACOPEIA AS A LEGAL STANDARD.. JAMA. 1908;LI(24):2020–2022. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.25410240008001b
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