The coming revision of the United States Pharmacopoeia, the time for which is rapidly approaching, is receiving more than the usual amount of attention at the hands of physicians and pharmacists generally. The shortcomings of the work are being brought to our attention, while suggestions for its improvement promise well for the Pharmacopoeia of 1900.
The Pharmacopoeial Convention of 1900 will have many trying and difficult questions to decide. The fact that the Pharmacopoeia is so little used by physicians, thus limiting its usefulness, will undoubtedly be brought very forcibly to the attention of the convention and many suggestions for radical changes have already been made with the idea of popularizing it among physicians.
The Pharmacopoeia, in order to be useful to physicians, should state the doses and uses of the drugs and preparations which it contains. The minute descriptions of the drug and the long list of tests for impurities, identity or strength, or the exact formulas for making preparations, all of which tend to make the book so valuable for the pharmacist are of no interest to the physician.
Our Pharmacopoeia is no doubt the best book in the world for pharmacists, but as a book for physicians, it is defective in many ways.
To add those things which would make it a useful book of reference to the physician is hardly practicable, and will probably never be sanctioned by the convention. Even should such addition be sanctioned, it would add too much to the bulk of the book, causing inconvenience in its use to both physician and pharmacist. Such an increase in size, and incidentally in price, would likely lessen rather than increase its popularity. But why should not the revision committee be authorized to publish two Pharmacopoelas, or rather one Pharmacopoeia, and a commentary on the same, containing the uses, doses and such descriptive matter as would be of especial interest to the physician, eliminating from the latter all matter which is of interest only to those who make and prepare medicines?
The publication of a large number of commentaries on the United States Pharmacopoeia might be held to be an objection to the publication of another by the committee of revision; but such objection would hardly be well taken, as such publications only emphasize the need of an authoritative work such as suggested.
As physicians in the past have shown little interest in the Pharmacopoeia, would it not be well to so adapt it to their needs so that it would prove indispensable to them? There are many valuable drugs and preparations in the official list that are practically unknown to physicians and an official commentary bearing specially on nomenclature, dosage and therapeusis, should commend itself to all and do much toward lessening the use of proprietary medicines.
s/ J. A. Koch