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Pharmacopoeia The Complete Medical Guide

May 14, 2008
With the ever increasing number of medicinal compounds, chemicals and drugs it is necessary to have a centralized source of information by which any researcher or doctor can investigate the treatments he may wish to make for a patient. Unlike a manual that only lists the types of pills or tablets available, the Pharmacopoeia attempts to be the comprehensive collection of all things used to treat disease and illness.

In modern times this pharmacopoeia will be regulated and published by a government-regulating agency. In this "book of books" will be listings to aid in the identification of substances and the means of preparation by which the compounds can be prepared and used.

Before the sixteenth century most physicians and pharmacists used the old notes and treatises put out by apothecaries. There was no central authority or standardized method of testing to see if the treatments listed were in fact even effective. There was always the problem of myth and superstition being inserted in place of proven medical research.

With most medicines at the time having herbal origins, there was increased the danger of variations in soil, growing conditions, preservation and preparation. Under this non-system of hit and miss medical information, even useful and effective compounds could be misused or improperly administered, leading to worse results than if the disease had been left to run its course.

For the next hundred and fifty years, European pharmacopoeia began the slow process of researching and compiling more complete lists of drugs and preparations with the aim of eliminating some of the more bizarre and questionable practices. By the mid eighteenth century the London Pharmacopoeia had evolved to contain just the drugs and treatments that were held by the majority of physicians as effective.

Many of the medical formulas were simplified and the lists of extraneous ingredients that had no real import on the effectiveness of medicines was added as items to be avoided. While some old medical practices were removed, there were other drugs, formerly considered too dangerous or unstable, added or reintroduced.

By the late nineteenth century the pharmacopoeia took its last major step to improving the overall effectiveness of medical knowledge. Previously the compilers of these volumes did not in fact practice pharmacology and it was felt that while they were able to decide what was required but lacked knowledge of how to do the actual manufacturing process of the compounds. It was here that the work was divided into separate parts, one discussing the uses and effects of the medical compounds and the other dealing only with the construction of the drugs.

Trade synonyms for certain compounds cause problems that need to be overcome. The inclusion of substances that have uses other than just medical applications have lead to confusion as to what level of purity or production method will yield a medically acceptable form of a compound. Some of these compounds, in a slightly different form, might be used for some purpose like cleaning a floor and could be deadly if included in the preparation of a medicine.

In the modern age new developments in medicines and treatments are being brought out too quickly for the pharmacopoeia to ever be completely up-to-date. As it may sometimes take several years to get a new treatment listed in the book of books, it is necessary to have frequent supplemental updates issued to cover the latest developments in medical knowledge.
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